German investigators are putting executives of the carmaker Daimler in the hot seat after it was revealed the company could be at the heart of the latest “dieselgate” scandal surrounding auto emissions. The German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has given Daimler AG a 14-day-long period to provide authorities with more information about the motor software that allegedly helped Mercedes-Benz diesel vans cheat on emission standards tests about nitrogen oxide output.
While much of the existing coverage surrounding emissions scandals is hyper-focused on Volkswagen’s role in cheating to scrape by tight emission standards, dubbed the “diesel dupe” by the BBC, Daimler’s new software scandal is getting some serious media and government scrutiny and could overshadow that of its rival. Germany has already ordered Mercedes-Benz Vito vans, which run on diesel, to be recalled after it was discovered the vehicle’s diesel emission controls don’t meet legal standards.
According to The News & Observer, the company disputes the vehicle authority’s claims that its vans fail to meet emission standards but has nonetheless ordered an internal investigation and adjustment of the vehicles in light of the government scrutiny. The company did not initially release how many of its vehicles would be impacted by the recall notice, though the recall will affect all models with a 1.6-liter diesel engine that are currently on sale in Europe and elsewhere.
The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag alleged that up to 40,000 vans are being additionally probed by investigators following the recall of the vehicles. Similarly, some 80,000 Mercedes C-Class sedans are also being impacted by the probe, and stiff regulatory action could be taken if it’s found that the vehicles had flagrantly violated the EU’s stringent emission standards that have been in place for decades now. As of now, the C-Class sedans have not been subject to a recall in the way that the 40,000 Vito vans have been.
The regulatory probe follows the general trend taking place in Europe that sees consumers and auto manufacturers alike slowly drifting away from diesel-powered vehicles. Cultural changes and stiff regulations surrounding diesel emissions that have only grown more stringent following VW’s scandal have contributed to an overall dive in diesel sales across Europe.
According to Forbes, for instance, diesel-powered cars and SUV’s alone saw sales sag by 8 percent in Europe in 2017 alone. Additionally, the market share for these vehicles slid to its lowest in eight years, and broader regulatory changes and continued emissions scandals are expected to continue to put a damper on diesel-fueled vehicle sales for the foreseeable future.