Another German manufacturer is under scrutiny over diesel emissions. This time it is Mercedes, which has just announced it will be offering customers a software fix for almost all diesels sold since 2011.
Mercedes-Benz is voluntarily recalling millions diesel cars in Europe so that it can provide them with a software update, which is designed to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
The move was described by a Daimler spokesman as a “voluntary service measure” and said to be unrelated to the ongoing police investigation over possible diesel exhaust emissions manipulation. It will involve around three million diesels.
Virtually every Mercedes diesel car from when the Euro 5 emissions standard was implemented in 2011 will be eligible for the free software update, with implementation starting in the next few weeks at a cost of an estimated €220 million (£195 million).
“The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty ─ especially for our customers,” said Mercedes-Benz boss, Dr Dieter Zetsche.
He added: “We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology.
“We are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions.”
Mercedes is currently under investigation by German police. A total of 23 prosecutors and 230 police offers took part in a search in a number of German states ─ including Berlin, Saxony, Lower Saxony and Wuerttemberg ─ in May, 2016, over suspicions of fraudulent emissions data and misleading advertising.
Speaking to Sky News, Daimler said it “did not expect the update to result in any changes to performance, certified fuel consumption, noise or reliability”.
That will be of little reassurance to the thousands of VW owners who have experienced various issues with their cars since undertaking the ‘dieselgate’ emissions fix, including reduced power and acceleration, going into limp mode and decreased fuel efficiency.
Mercedes-Benz will be keen to avoid being dragged into a mess that cost VW billions of pounds and tarnished its reputation. Fiat Chrysler (FCA), PSA Group and Renault are also under investigation for emissions manipulation in at least one country.
Since the Government’s anti-diesel stance has intensified, Brits are buying less of them. In June alone, diesel car sales dropped noticeably and some of the slack was taken up by alternative fuel vehicles such as electrics and hybrids.
The government published a report in April, 2016, that found diesel cars emitted an average of six times more NOx in real-world driving than the legal limit. Air pollution is said to be responsible for millions of premature deaths worldwide.