Investigators in the U.S. probing Daimler the maker of Mercedes Benz have found its cars were outfitted with software that might have helped them pass strict emissions tests for diesel engines, reported a German newspaper on Sunday. The newspaper cited confidential documents it had seen.
Growing scrutiny has taken place when it comes to diesel vehicles since 2015 when Volkswagen admitted to installing software in 580,000 vehicles in the U.S. that allows the diesel engines to emit as much as 40 times above the legal allowable emissions in normal operation, but meet testing standards set by regulators.
Daimler, which is facing continuing investigations by German and U.S. authorities into its excess diesel emissions, said that investigations might lead to a significant number of recalls and penalties.
Germany’s newspaper Bild am Sonntage said that documents had shown that investigators in the U.S. found numerous software functions that helped cars made by Daimler pass the strict emissions tests. One of the functions included switching off the emissions cleaning after driving for 26 km.
In addition, another function that came under heavy scrutiny allowed the cleaning system for emissions to recognize if the vehicle was undergoing a test based upon the patterns of acceleration or speed.
The newspaper also said that email sent by engineers at Daimler questioned if the software functions being used in the diesel vehicles were legal.
A spokesperson for Daimler declined to make a comment with regard to the content of the secret documents that were uncovered, saying that the Germany-based company was cooperating fully with authorities in the U.S. and agreed to a strict form of confidentiality with the U.S. Justice Department.
The spokesperson added that U.S. authorities are aware of the documents in question and have not filed any complaint regarding them. The documents that were made available to Bild were obviously selected and then released as a means of harming the image of Daimler and its more than 290,000 employees.
There have been several incidents related to emissions, miles per gallon gasoline consumption, air bags and more that have rocked the auto industry the last three or four years and regulators and safety inspectors have started to become much stricter with regulations and more and more scrutiny is being placed on automakers, by both regulators and consumers.