Mercedes Accused of Similar VW-Style Kill Switch

A class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District New Jersey against Mercedes-Benz (“Mercedes” or the “Company”), alleging that the Company created a similar device to that of Volkswagen’s controversial “defeat device.” According to the Complaint, the device allows Mercedes’ diesel engine models to ace emissions inspections, but, in reality, pollute the environment at a level higher than permissible under federal standards.

If the allegations stand, Mercedes could find itself in a similar situation to that of Volkswagen, which is currently fighting sprawling multi-district litigation for its emissions-masking software. Volkswagen received a blemished reputation after it was charged with programming its engines to turn off emissions controls when its vehicles were not being inspected. Mercedes is now being accused of similar conduct. Plaintiff, Ulyana Lynevych (“Lynevych”), asserted that Mercedes has programmed its vehicles to pollute by using an emissions-scrubbing mechanism that causes its diesel cars to shut-off under certain temperatures, all the while reaping profits from consumers who have fallen victim to the Company’s aggressive and eco-conscious branding.

Lynevych claimed that she purchased her vehicle due to its environmental efficiency. According to the Complaint, Mercedes has vigorously marketed its diesel engine to be “the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel [with] ultra-low emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance [that emitted] up to 30 percent lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.” However, since Lynevych’s purchase, numerous foreign agencies and watchdogs have uncovered evidence that the engine is not as efficient as advertised. In fact, investigators pointed to an independent European research institute, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, which found that the pollutants produced after the scrubbing systems turned off were 65 times higher than the allowable federal standard. The Company maintains that the shut-off device was required to protect the engines.

Subsequent to the filing of this lawsuit, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) asked Mercedes for a formal explanation regarding the claims made by Lynevych. Specifically, the EPA asked whether or not Mercedes’ diesel engine vehicles have a “defeat device.” Mercedes has refuted all allegations made and has stated that the lawsuit is “unfounded” and that it has worked “closely and constructively” with government agencies in both Europe and North America to ensure its vehicles pass diesel emissions testing in accordance with applicable laws.

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