Mercedes-Benz faces more than 300,000 lawsuits at the High Court in London from owners of diesel vehicles allegedly fitted with “defeat devices” designed to cheat emissions tests.
A German carmaker allegedly misled customers about complying with certain nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission standards for diesel vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz denies that its vehicles are equipped with blocking devices that can change vehicles.
A company spokesman said in a statement: “We believe the allegations are baseless and defend ourselves against them.”
The class-action lawsuit follows the “dieselgate” scandal that engulfed Volkswagen after it admitted to cheating on U.S. diesel engine tests, which has so far cost the automaker more than 32 billion euros ($37.5 billion) in vehicle repairs, fines, and court costs nearly 300,000 claims have been filed against Mercedes-Benzes in London, and about 35,000 more are in the works, lawyers said at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
Mercedes-Benz and the plaintiffs agreed to handle the claims jointly.
Oliver Campbell, who represents the plaintiffs, said in court documents that certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles contained technology to reduce NOx emissions but only worked properly at certain temperatures.
He said this meant the vehicles produced “much higher levels of NOx than allowed” and that Mercedes-Benz had no viable defence against the lawsuit. However, lawyers representing Mercedes-Benz denied that its vehicles had immobilisers because their emission control systems were not reduced in effectiveness.
Helen Davies said in written arguments that the action is based largely on separate proceedings in Britain against Volkswagen, which last year agreed to pay 193 million pounds ($235 million) to settle 91,000 claims without admitting liability.
But he added that there were “significant differences” with the lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz because its vehicles did not use software to detect when they were tested for emissions.