Mercedes-Benz Hasn't Escaped the Diesel Dragnet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

After staying relatively clean in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that’s keeping European automakers up at night, Mercedes-Benz now finds itself the potential target of an Environmental Protection Agency investigation, Automotive News Europe reports.

The EPA’s request for information targets the nitrous oxide emissions of the company’s Bluetec diesel engines, and comes less than two weeks after a class-action lawsuit was filed by law firm Hagens Berman (of General Motors ignition switch fame).

Yes, that sound you’re hearing is executives loosening their collars in Stuttgart.

The lawsuit alleges that Mercedes-Benz programmed its diesel engines to emit up to 65 times the allowable amount of NOx once outside temperatures drop below 50 Fahrenheit.

From the suit:

The suit filed Feb. 18, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey accuses Mercedes of deceiving consumers with false representations of its BlueTEC vehicles, which it marketed as “the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel” with “ultra-low emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance” that emits “up to 30% lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.” According to the complaint, on-road testing confirmed that Mercedes’ so-called Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that are 19 times higher than the U.S. standard, with some instantaneous readings as high as 65 times more than the U.S. limit.

On Mercedes-Benz diesels, urea and deionized water (“AdBlue”) is injected into vehicle’s exhaust gases to lower tailpipe emissions.

A spokesperson for parent company Daimler has refuted the allegations, stating Mercedes-Benz has done nothing illegal, though it admits the emissions system does diminish the urea injection at certain times to prevent condensation buildup and corrosion in the exhaust system.

The lawsuits cites the full range of diesel-equipped Mercedes-Benz diesels, from passenger cars and SUVs to commercial vans.

Is everything above board at Mercedes-Benz? The EPA gets to have the final say on that.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Sigivald Sigivald on Mar 01, 2016

    "A spokesperson for parent company Daimler has refuted the allegations, stating Mercedes-Benz has done nothing illegal" Wording nitpick: Daimler has *denied* the allegations. To refute them is to *prove* them false; Daimler might be able to do that later, but they haven't done so yet.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Mar 02, 2016

    Well I think after looking at it that everyone is right . The article does say nitrous oxide but it should probably read nitrogen oxides or oxides of nitrogen, of which there are many species. Air being around 78% Nitrogen N2 and 21% Oxygen 02 (and going down) - when it goes into the 2500 degree crucible of the combustion chamber, they are I think, literally atomized in hot plasma which recombines in every way possible. So N20 nitrous oxide is just one small component of all the combinations which are NOx i.e. NO, NO2, NO3 etc., and also NxOy i.e. N2O, N2O3, N3O2 etc.... some more stable when released than others. As stated above, NOx causes Smog that inflames lung linings, induces asthma, is acidic, and interacts with O3 when it drifts high, depleting ozone. Spiky hot sun anyone? While N2O which ironically is the nicest of nitrogen oxides to breath, like at the dentist or Phish concerts - just happens to reflect long wave radiation back down to the ground instead of letting it through to vent into space.

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