Daimler: New emissions cheating software discovered — report

An unknown "illegal defeat device" was found in one of the carmaker's Mercedes models, a German newspaper reports. The country's auto sector is struggling to restore its reputation following the Dieselgate scandal.

German automaker Daimler on Sunday faced fresh allegations of emissions cheating after revelations about a previously unknown manipulation software were made public.

The country's vehicle regulator has begun a formal investigation after discovering a new device in the company's Mercedes-Benz model GLK 220 CDI, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported.

According to Bild, the investigation is focusing on another "illegal defeat device" installed in around 60,000 vehicles produced between 2012 and 2015 with the exhaust emission standard 5.

Read more: European Commission finds German automakers illegally colluded on emissions technology

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Bild reported that regulators discovered the controversial software in late 2018. It said further emissions tests with a GLK model then confirmed their suspicion.

The paper said the European Union's emissions limit of 180 milligrams of nitrogen oxide per kilometer was clearly exceeded once the software was deactivated during the tests.

Software has been updated

Bild said the newly-discovered cheating software had been subsequently removed secretly during software updates by Daimler.

The Stuttgart-based carmaker confirmed a probe was underway by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). A spokesman told the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the company had been in talks with the KBA for months.

"We fully cooperate with the Federal Motor Transport Authority and are reviewing the facts," Daimler said in a statement.

"In the course of the hearing proceedings, we will present our view to KBA."
Read more: Climate change: EU to seek stricter car emissions cut by 2030

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German automakers are struggling to move on from the Dieselgate scandal, which first erupted in September 2015, when Volkswagen admitted to secretly installing software in 500,000 US vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests.

The scandal is believed to have affected about 11 million cars worldwide, cost the company some $25 billion (€22 billion) in fines and compensation, and caused significant damage to VW's reputation.

Other German auto brands — Audi, BMW, Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche — were also implicated and subsequently carried out their own recalls.

Huge European recall

Last year, Daimler was ordered to recall nearly 800,000 vehicles across Europe, including 280,000 in Germany, that were found to be fitted with emissions cheating software.

The company is carrying out the recalls of the diesel versions of the Mercedes C-Class, Vito and GLC models to install a new version of its engine management software.

Daimler is also potentially facing a big fine over the diesel scam; German prosecutors said in February they had opened a "fine procedure" against the firm.

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.

mm/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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