Class-Action Lawsuit Accuses Mercedes-Benz of Duping Diesel Emissions
Automaker Denies any Wrongdoing
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Mercedes-Benz USA, claiming the company’s diesel vehicles disable emissions controls in cold weather.
The suit claims that when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the engine’s pollution controls disengage and permit nitrogen emissions to jump to 65 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limit. For its part, the EPA hasn’t commented on the suit or accused Mercedes of any emissions cheating.
According to NASDAQ, the EPA allows automakers to fit their vehicles with devices that may occasionally increase emissions as long as those devices serve a purpose, such as preventing overheating. The devices must also be disclosed to the EPA ahead of time. A statement from the suit acknowledges that the company may not have fit delete devices to its vehicles, but by turning off emissions controls in certain conditions, it has duped its customers.
Mercedes-Benz denies any wrongdoing, according to Automotive News. A company spokesperson called the lawsuit’s claims “baseless,” arguing Mercedes vehicles pass all regulatory laws and standards. In the past, the company has said that it would never use a defeat device to circumvent a legal requirement.
The suit demands that Mercedes-Benz USA recall or buy back all affected vehicles, which include four- and six-cylinder diesel variants of the E-Class and S-Class sedans and GLK-Class, ML-Class, and GL-Class SUVs. The suit also seeks unspecified damages, as a recalled vehicle might not perform as well and would therefore case suffering for its owner.
There’s some argument to be made that the lawsuit could be a case of profiteering. Diesel scrutiny is at an all-time high, due in part to the high-profile nature of the Volkswagen scandal, so it’s possible that owners of other diesel vehicles might be inclined to judge oil-burners harshly. The same phenomenon occurred in 2009 when Toyota owners blamed the company for several accidents, claiming their vehicles fell victim to the unintended acceleration for which the company became known. Most of those accidents were found to have been caused by driver error, not sudden, uncontrollable acceleration.
Whatever the case may be, Mercedes-Benz USA will likely have to answer to the lawsuit and any additional investigation, so the truth should come out soon.