BERLIN/FRANKFURT, May 28 (Reuters) - Germany’s Transport Ministry grilled Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche on Monday over how many Mercedes-Benz vans and cars need to be fixed to meet emissions rules.
The luxury carmaker was summoned to a closed-door meeting to discuss a regulatory probe of software devices found by Germany’s KBA motor vehicle authority.
Daimler was last week ordered to recall Vito vans fitted with 1.6 litre engines because they breached emissions regulations. The inquiry follows the high-profile Volkswagen emissions test cheating scandal.
“We will have an in depth exchange about highly complex technical questions with the aim of examining how many models are impacted,” German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said, adding that Daimler has been given until June 15 to come up with a solution to resolve the emissions issues on the Vito.
“At a further meeting in 14 days, concrete results will be on the table,” Scheuer added in a statement.
Asked how the meeting went, Zetsche told Reuters: “It was a good discussion. We will see each other again in 14 days.”
Germany’s transport ministry said the Vito had been equipped with a software device which manipulated the SCR emissions filtering function, leading to higher nitrogen oxide emissions.
Bild am Sonntag, without citing sources, said regulators are probing around 40,000 Mercedes-Benz Vito vans and 80,000 C-Class models for possible illicit software that allowed the vehicles to emit excess pollution without detection.
Daimler has said it will appeal against KBA’s decision to classify the software as illegal, and contest KBA’s findings in court if necessary, although it said it was cooperating fully.
European carmakers have invested heavily in diesel engines, which produce less carbon dioxide but more of other pollutants blamed for causing respiratory disease than petrol engines.
German cities are entitled to ban older diesel vehicles from streets with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels in line with European Union rules. (Reporting by Edward Taylor in Frankfurt and Gabi Sajonz Editing by Alexander Smith)