Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG warned this week the automaker could face significant fines and recalls as a result of U.S. authorities’ investigation into its own diesels. The automaker launched an internal investigation at the request of the EPA a year ago after reports of possible discrepancies in the emissions levels of its U.S. market vehicles following the fallout of the Volkswagen diesel crisis.
In its quarterly report, Daimler indicates regulators have broadened the definition of what can be termed “an undisclosed auxiliary emissions-control device” to include some systems common in diesel vehicles.
“In light of the recent notices of violation that were issued by U.S. environmental authorities to another vehicle manufacturer in January 2017, identifying functionalities — apparently including functionalities that are common in diesel vehicles — as undisclosed Auxiliary Emission Control Devices and potentially impermissible, and in light of the ongoing governmental information requests, inquiries and investigations and our own internal investigation, it cannot be ruled out that the authorities might reach the conclusion that Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles have similar functionalities,” the automaker said, referencing the notice of violation received by FCA for some of its diesel Jeep and Ram models.
The Volkswagen diesel crisis, initially estimated to cost the company a maximum of $100 million two years ago by VW’s own estimates, has reset the bar on auto manufacturer penalties and recalls many times over. $25 billion has been devoted to the recall and compensation program in the U.S. alone, and Daimler’s reading of the changing regulatory environment appears to reflect this new reality.
Daimler’s report comes weeks after prosecutors in Germany opened their own probe against Daimler employees on suspicion of manipulating emissions data and false advertising. The somber assessment also follows delays in obtaining EPA certification for U.S.-bound diesel models, including the diesel C-Class badged C300d.