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Collective actions

Mercedes emissions scandal - the story so far

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler are facing legal action across the US and Europe after they were caught using cheating software in their diesel engines.

19 March 2021

The devices installed into the affected Mercedes vehicles manipulated emissions readings during testing, giving an inaccurate result on the amount of nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emitted compared to what would actually be emitted into the environment when customers were driving the vehicles on roads.

Mercedes were ordered to recall a number of popular models by the KBA (the German Federal Motor Transport Authority). Many of the recalls featured their AdBlue technology, of which Mercedes claimed would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to create their ‘cleanest cars ever’, potentially misleading customers with their purchase intentions.

As the Mercedes diesel claim progresses in the UK, we look at how the case has evolved globally and how Mercedes have been held accountable for their actions.

Mercedes emissions claim timeline - What has happened so far?

  • February 2016 - American owners of Mercedes diesel vehicles file a class action of suspected “defeat devices” to manipulate emissions testing. Owners Daimler denied any claims.
  • April 2016 - Daimler announced they would conduct an internal investigation of its diesel exhaust systems at the request of the United States Justice Department.
  • May 2017 - 11 of Daimler’s manufacturing sites were raided by prosecutors in Germany said to be linked to investigations of cheating emissions tests of Mercedes diesel cars.
  • June 2018 - Daimler were forced to recall 774,000 of Mercedes vehicles across Europe after the KBA discovered defeat devices installed to cheat emissions testing. Daimler challenges the KBA’s findings.
  • April 2019 – the European Commission sends a statement of objections to BMW, Daimler and VW for restricting competition on emissions cleaning technology.
  • September 2019 - Daimler is fined €870m in Germany for “negligent violation” with respect to emissions regulations. Daimler did not make an appeal against the penalty.
  • May 2020 - Collective action against Mercedes launched in the UK.
  • September 2020 - Daimler settles US emissions claims with US authorities for a reported $1.5 billion. In addition, Daimler had agreed to pay $700m to settle a class action lawsuit brought by owners.
  • October 2020 - Mercedes adds to their list of recalls in UK as more models are found to be using cheating software to manipulate emissions testing.
  • December 2020- Slater and Gordon began issuing claims against Mercedes on behalf of owners affected by the manufacturer’s wrongdoing.
  • February 2021 - KBA reject Daimler’s objection against recall notices

How are vehicle owners responding to the manufacturer’s wrongdoing?

With hundreds of thousands of vehicle owners likely to be affected by Daimler’s actions, over 45,000 current or former Mercedes owners have registered for the collective action claim against Mercedes with Slater and Gordon.

After speaking with a number of our clients, many are outraged by the malpractice they’ve been exposed to, feeling they’ve been misled by a once highly reputable and trusted organisation. We believe that those who’ve been mis-sold on the environmentally friendly aspects of these vehicles should be compensated for the deceit they’ve experienced.

What else is to come in the Mercedes emissions scandal?

Daimler has stated that it intends to vigorously defend the claims it faces, however, so far it has not explained how, in light of the German fines and KBA recalls, it’s not liable to UK consumers.

As the company recently lost its appeal against the KBA’s various recall notices, it is still required to recall and rectify the software in affected vehicles in order to bring them back into compliance with the emissions regulations.

Recent developments in the Court of Justice of the European Union, handed down before the UK left the EU, may also have an impact on whether the vehicles are actually compliant with emissions regulations after the fix. If the vehicles are found to deploy ‘thermal window’ software, this makes them compliant only in a certain temperature range. Due to the enormity of the impact ‘dieselgate’ has had on the motoring industry, new regulations will be placed on carmakers to avoid related circumstances from occurring in the future.

New on-road testing has also been launched to compliment laboratory testing on new vehicles. From January 2021, the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test requires all new car registrations to have a maximum NOx emissions conformity factor of 1.0 (plus a slight allowance for inaccuracy).

The actions in place to ensure manufacturers cannot cheat emissions testing in future provide strong confirmation that those who’ve already been caught doing so should be punished.

As leading experts in the dieselgate scandal, our Mercedes claim lawyers are fighting for compensation on behalf of tens of thousands of claimants.

For more information visit: Mercedes-Benz emissions scandal

Update May 2022:

In May 2022, Slater and Gordon successfully secured a significant financial settlement of behalf of around 70,000 diesel vehicle owners in the collective action claim we led against the VW Group. Read more about it here.

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