Germany's Transport Ministry said on Monday that 774,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe had been found to contain unauthorized software defeat devices and ordered Daimler to recall more than 200,000 cars in Germany.
The Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt said 238,000 vehicles in the country have unauthorised software fitted and has demanded that they are fixed immediately by the auto maker.
According to the authorities, the cars use an illegal shut-off device that reduces exhaust gas cleaning when the vehicles are being driven normally on the road. In a report uncovered by Reuters, a local news source found that the country's Federal Motor Transport Authority (known as the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, or KBA) discovered five "illegal switch-off devices" on Daimler vehicles.
Five models in total are reported to be affected, including the volume-selling Mercedes C-Class - the UK's ninth most popular vehicle past year - and GLC SUV variants.
The automaker says it is cooperating fully with the German Transport Ministry and KBA investigation; Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche met with the German Transport Minister on June 11 to discuss the report.
Vehicles kept to legal emissions limits for harmful substances like nitrogen oxides (NOx) during lab tests, only to exceed them as much as 40 times in on-road driving.
This is specifically linked to two functions of the engine control in Mercedes-Benz Vito vans. However, the KBA has taken issue with the emission control features amid suspicion they allow vehicles to emit excess pollution without detection.
It's now unclear how many models in the United Kingdom are impacted. Daimler hasn't contested the existence of the devices, but has argued that the devices may not be illegal.
The company is reportedly confident it can bring the vehicles back into compliance via software update.
Zetsche or Daimler didn't say anything about what the company's software may be created to do, but it's the second large fix for the automaker in as many years. "Overall, this outcome should de-risk the stock".
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