Daimler faces recall order over suspected manipulation

German premium car maker Daimler may have to recall hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles because of suspected emissions cheating. The Stuttgart-based company said it's not aware of any wrongdoing.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Friday that Daimler was facing a recall for more than 600,000 diesel-engine vehicles including C-Class and G-Class models because of suspected emissions manipulation.

Germany's vehicle authority KBA is in the process of investigating strong suspicions that the affected cars were fitted with illicit defeat devices designed to rig emissions levels.

The Transport Ministry said it had asked the KBA to pursue any further leads related to emissions at Daimler's Mercedes-Benz premium brand.

The report came just a day after KBA officials ordered Daimler to recall the Mercedes Vito van fitted with 1.6-liter diesel Euro-6 engines because of engine control features to reduce exhaust emissions when the cars were in the lab.

Volkswagen only the tip of the iceberg?

Daimler said it was appealing the KBA findings with regard to the ordered Vito recall, but did not comment on Friday's report in Der Spiegel.

The company's chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, agreed to meet Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer in Berlin on Monday to answer questions related to possible emissions cheating at the company.

"I expect Mercedes to deal with the accusations in a transparent way for customers," Scheuer said in a statement.

Dieselgate: A timeline

The disaster unfolds

About two weeks after Volkswagen admitted behind closed doors to US environmental regulators that it had installed cheating software in some 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide, the Environmental Protection Agency shared that information with the public. It was September 18, 2015. The ensuing crisis would eventually take a few unexpected turns.

Dieselgate: A timeline

The boss must go, long live the boss

Volkswagen's then-CEO Martin Winterkorn (above) had little choice but to step down several days after news of the scandal broke. In September, he tendered his resignation, but retained his other posts within the Volkswagen Group. Winterkorn's successor was Matthias Müller. Until taking the reins at VW, Müller had been the chairman at Porsche, a VW subsidiary.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Raiding headquarters

Regulators in the US weren't the only ones investigating VW. Authorities in Lower Saxony, the German state in which VW is based, were also scrutinizing the company. On October 8, state prosecutors raided VW's headquarters along with several other corporate locations.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Hell breaks loose

On January 4, 2016, the US government filed a lawsuit against VW in Detroit, accusing the German automaker of fraud and violations of American climate protection regulations. The lawsuit sought up to $46 billion for violations of the Clean Air Act.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Quit or forced out?

In March, the head of VW in the US, Michael Horn, resigned. In the initial days and weeks after the scandal broke, he was the one US authorities turned to for information. He issued an official apology on behalf of the automaker, asking for the public's forgiveness.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Settlement

On October 25, a US judge approved a final settlement that would have VW pay $15.3 billion. In addition, affected cars would be retrofitted with better, non-deceptive hardware and software, or else VW would buy them back completely from customers.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Imitators

When dieselgate first emerged in 2015, analysts said it was likely other car makers were also cheating tests. But it wasn't until 2017 that other companies were targeted in probes. In July, German authorities launched investigations into luxury car makers Porsche and Daimler for allegedly cheating emissions tests. Others, such as Audi and Chrysler, have also been hit by similar allegations.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Public still supportive

Despite dieselgate, VW has managed to keep the emissions scandal from utterly tarnishing its image. According to several polls, between 55 to 67 percent of Germans continue to trust the automaker. In the US, polls show that roughly 50 percent still believe the German company produces worthwhile vehicles.

Dieselgate: A timeline

Fuming over monkeys

In late January, however, VW suffered another heavy blow over reports that the company experimented on monkeys and made the animals inhale diesel fumes. To make matters worse, a separate experiment that had humans inhale relatively harmless nitrogen dioxide was revealed at the same time. Some media wrongly interpreted this to mean humans were also inhaling toxic fumes.

hg/mm (Reuters, dpa)

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