By on October 22, 2019

If you’re like this writer, you might be surprised to learn that snails, the subject of this piece, are loosely related to the octopus. Learning doesn’t have to end when you leave school.

Snails, also known by more scientific names, are fun to step on, but can cause quite a bit of consternation and unexpected expense when they inhabit premium German automobiles. Especially ones that just took a very long boat ride.

As reported by Australia’s Car Advice, five shipments totalling 900 Mercedes-Benz vehicles have been ordered to turn around and go home after Aussie authorities discovered a type of snail unknown to the land Down Under. The island nation doesn’t take too kindly to new species that could disrupt the country’s fragile ecosystem, forcing dealers to tell buyers their new car will have to wait.

Apparently, the snail infestation — the publication notes that the suspect in question is the Heath snail, native to southwest Europe and parts of North America — was caught by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, which placed $50 million worth of vehicles in quarantine as it worked on a solution. That solution, it turns out, was to send boatloads of sedans, SUVs, and vans back to a port in Belgium.

“Further steps beyond their re-exportation are yet to be finalised,” the automaker stated.

Whether the vehicles undergo a thorough snail cleansing or the automaker opts to send a wholly new batch is unknown at this time. What is known, however, is that the vehicles must now be placed inside containers to prevent contamination of the car-carrying ships plying the waters between Europe and Australia. That means more costs for M-B.

This marks the first time that snails have prevented shipments of vehicles from reaching Aussie dealers. Until now, the main concern was brown marmorated stink bugs hitching a ride from Asian ports to the island nation. Those same bugs also made their way to Europe, where local governments claim the insect has become a serious nuisance.

[Image: Daimler AG]

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36 Comments on “Aussies Turn Away Mercedes-Benz Shipments Infested With Gastropod Mollusks...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    There was a story on the G8 Forum of someone buying either parts or a car or something and finding a spider in a box they had shipped from AUS, of course they looked it up and found it to be an extremely venemous spider as one would expect from Australia.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Speaking of cars taking a boat ride, what’s going on with the ro-ro ship that listed off the Georgia coast recently?

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Maybe the Aussies should just go back to building (and buying) Holdens made right in their back yard.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I posted here a couple weeks ago about my SSs Australian content being over 80%, I applaud them, up to the last model year on being able to stuff that much home made content into their own countries car.

      Unfortunately one automaker is not enough to support the kind of industry needed to build cars in a country. Without Ford and Toyota, and with the generally weak economic situation they find themselves perpetually stuck in, the country will never again see another auto industry. Their existence is reliant on other countries to support their needs. It’s a sad situation to see, and really should bring into question their future solvency as a 1st world country.

  • avatar
    Big Smoke

    According to port authorities, dock workers were reported to have said …..
    “Look at the “S” cars go.”

  • avatar
    Featherston

    All gastropods are mollusks. There’s no need for “mollusks” in the headline.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “This marks the first time that snails have prevented shipments of vehicles from reaching Aussie dealers. Until now, the main concern was brown marmorated stink bugs hitching a ride from Asian ports to the island nation. Those same bugs also made their way to Europe, where local governments claim the insect has become a serious nuisance.”

    — Them stink bugs ain’t exactly welcome in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, either.
    … but they’re here.

  • avatar
    JMII

    How do snails get inside cars anyway? Were they sitting outside in storage before being loaded onto the ship? Of course I am assuming the factory in German is snail free on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Nobody expects the Snailish Infestation!

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Instead of “Get the snails off of the plate!”, it’s “Get the snails out of the cars!”

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      I work at Mercedes and have been to the main plant in Sindelfingen a few times. The cars are built in the factory (which, yes, is snail-free), then stored outside for a day or two, then loaded onto a train to either destinations in Europe or to a port. There’s plenty of time for snails to climb aboard.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Are they stored on a grassy lot or under a lot of trees? Just how the heck do these snails get on/IN the cars?

        • 0 avatar
          glwillia

          In various parking lots near the train loading terminal, and there are a fair number of trees and grassy areas around. As for how they get on/in the cars, the cars are of course kept with the doors closed and windows up (but unlocked and with the keys inside) but I’m guessing the snails just climbed up a tire and hitched a ride on like a suspension component or something.

        • 0 avatar
          Garak

          Heath snails love dry, open habitats and also like to climb things. It’s not hard to imagine them invading a parking lot, climbing up wheels, and eventually ending in wheel wells or even engine bays.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I am pretty sure they didn’t get into the cars but may be under them, attached to the underside. Australia takes pests very seriously. I’ve seen giant African snails on some of the ships arriving from Africa where I work but since they were attached to shipping containers. CBP-Agriculture quarantined all the containers off the ship and poured lots of rock salt all arround the containers. Honestly it looked like a witch ritual or something but it worked. Hot Florida asphalt, plus salt, you can imagine the outcome for the snails. As for Australian Customs? It would have been harder to jack every car up, open hoods, make sure they are 100% clean. Easier to put them back on the Ro-Ro

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Australia is warm and sunny. I am not a biologist, but I would assume that these snails would die from the heat.

    Alternatively, the loading dock could be quarantined and the exterior of the vehicles could be fumigated with a toxin that would kill the snails.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Hard to fumigate outdoors and when there’s a serious pest and potential for it escaping you want it out of there ASAP. Easiest thing to do is quarantine or immediate refusal of the shipment on the importers dime. Plus, even if it was possible to fumigate cars outdoors, I am not sure future owners want to know that. Heat would kill them too, eventually but there’s still potential that a snail or two would hitch a ride somewhere

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Good points.

        In that case Mercedes-Benz has to do some pest-control of their own at the factory. It is currently wet and cool in Germany, and when I go for walks outdoors snails and slugs are everywhere. Nasty creatures.

    • 0 avatar
      TS020

      Depends when the ship arrived; it’s springtime in Australia now. 36C in my city tomorrow (then 19C on Friday, wtf?)

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    Snails??? I’d have called them Chazwazzas.

  • avatar

    It is well established that Australians are racists. Why they deny European migrant snails God given right to live where they want in pursue of happiness? What Australian snails are afraid of competition? Are they anti-globalists Trump supporters? If local snail are cannot compete with new comers then I am sorry – fundamental law of biology – survival of fittest.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    This clean up will go at a snail’s pace.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I was formulating a darkly emblematic allegory for how this story relates to the dreadfully slow rate of innovation in the technologically backwards and anachronistically-managed automotive industry, but then I realized what we really need, in order to draw a meaningful parallel, is a good story on giant ice masses. Because even “a snail’s pace” is faster than “glacial”.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    True luxury – your new Mercedes comes with escargot included!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      So this snail is standing in front of the Cadillac salesman and he looks up at the salesmen and says, “How much is that Cadillac?” Then the snail says, “I want a big “S” put on each door and on top of the car, I want another big “S” so everybody can see it”. So the salesman says, “what do you want that for”? The snail replies “Well you see when I drive down the avenue I want everybody to say, look at that S-car go!”

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    While I can see the humor in the comments the reality it no joke.
    In the USA Quagga mussels got into the Great Lakes around 1989. Traced to ballast water from ships that had been in central Europe.
    From the Great Lakes the Quagga spread around the Mid West and found their way to the Colorado river, Lake Powell, Mead, Havasu, and Mojave. Also now in lakes around California.
    Most likely getting transported on small boats trailered from one lake to another.
    Because these things can clog water pipes, canals, aqueducts and so on there are now strict treatment and quarantine procedures at many lakes in the western USA. Quite a lot of money is being spent to remove the Quaggas from water systems.

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