Daimler to recall vehicles as Audi CEO implicated in German emissions probe

12 June 2018

Daimler to recall vehicles as Audi CEO implicated in German emissions probe

12 June 2018

Vehicle manufacturer Daimler has been ordered to recall 774,000 vehicles in Europe while German prosecutors said they had widened an emissions cheating probe against Audi to include CEO Rupert Stadler.

The country’s top regulator, the KBA, is unconvinced following meetings with Daimler over irregularities in diesel emissions. The carmaker will upgrade engine software in Mercedes Vito vans as well as the GLC SUV model and the Mercedes C-class, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer announced following a second meeting with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

The government is ordering ‘an immediate formal recall because of prohibited shutoff devices,’ Scheuer said.

The software recall is a less severe penalty for Daimler than a fine or any hardware retrofits. However, the company has constantly denied any wrongdoing over emissions. Germany had ratcheted up pressure on Daimler to specify models and the number of vehicles that needed recalling to adjust their exhaust systems, criticising the company’s piecemeal response to concerns about excessive pollution from its diesel vehicles.

The KBA said it found five unapproved software functions in Daimler’s Euro 6 diesel engines, affecting as many as one million vehicles in Germany, Bild am Sonntag reported. This follows the authority instructing the carmaker in May to recall 4,923 Vito vans worldwide that don’t comply with regulations. Daimler at the time said it would go to court if necessary to overturn the order. Reports suggested that the carmaker could be fined up to €4.4 billion should any emissions cheating be found.

Daimler already voluntarily recalled around three million vehicles in the EU last year, alongside similar moves by VW and BMW, for software updates to improve emissions performance.

Audi investigation

Meanwhile, prosecutors have said they have widened an emissions cheating probe against Audi to include its CEO amongst suspects accused of fraud and false advertising. The Munich public prosecutor’s office said it is now probing a total of 20 suspects.

Stadler has been implicated by several engineers over emissions issues, and the announcement comes only a month after Audi was raided for the third time. Two former managers are being held in pre-trial detention in Munich. Among them is Giovanni Pamio, who has testified about the rigging allegation at Audi.

The manufacturer has stated it is fully cooperating with the prosecutors.

Audi admitted in November 2015 that its 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines were fitted with a device deemed illegal in the US that allowed cars to evade emissions limits, following the discovery by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Volkswagen had cheated in emissions testing.

The company said last month that it had discovered emissions-related problems with a further 60,000 cars.