No Mercedes-Benz Diesels for 2017, or Maybe Ever

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Fans of German compression-ignition engines had best dig out those old, glossy posters of an olive green 300D, as they’re going to need it.

Daimler announced it will not sell 2017 diesel Mercedes-Benz models in the U.S. as rumors swirl that the automaker might give up on the segment altogether.

The problem lies in regulatory approval, which Daimler has struggled — and failed — to obtain. Following the Volkswagen diesel scandal, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board began going over diesel emissions with a fine-toothed comb. The four diesels Mercedes-Benz had hoped to sell in the U.S. this year became trapped in a bottleneck last fall.

After killing off the C300d’s prospects for good, the automaker then sought approval for just one model — the GLS350d. No dice. Investigations on both sides of the Atlantic could now cap the company’s 57-year diesel history in the U.S.

“We constantly review our portfolio offerings and make adjustments to meet immediate customer need,” Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman Rob Moran said in an email to Reuters. “Combined with the increased effort to certify diesel engines in the U.S., we have put the certification process for diesel passenger cars on hold.”

As it sits on the fence, Moran said the automaker is “leaving the door open” to the possibility of a diesel future in America.

While the approval bottleneck has since cleared, Mercedes-Benz’s exit from the diesel party leaves rival BMW with an edge, albeit a small one. Diesels amount to less than 1 percent of the U.S. market. Still, despite the VW scandal and increased scrutiny from regulators, other automakers are having a go at it. General Motors will offer a diesel GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox and Cruze later this year, while Mazda has a diesel CX-5 in the works.

Daimler isn’t worried about sales, however. Potential penalties and fines, on the other hand, are a much more pressing issue. The U.S. Department of Justice has joined the EPA and CARB in investigating the automaker’s diesel emissions, while German authorities are probing Daimler employees on the suspicion of fraud and misleading advertising related to diesel emissions.

Mercedes-Benz first entered the U.S. diesel market in 1960 with its 180d. By the early 1980s, four-fifths of the automaker’s U.S. sales were diesel-powered vehicles.

[Image: Daimler AG]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Newenthusiast Newenthusiast on May 10, 2017

    As far as I know, the only M-B diesel offered in USA before they tried to get the two models list above approved was the GLE, correct? This probably won't really have any effect on them. VoA's diesel sales were something close to 20%. I doubt that the GLE diesel is anywhere close to that kind of share.

  • Whatnext Whatnext on May 11, 2017

    Will Canada still be getting MB diesels?

  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.