Mercedes-Benz will pay $1.2 million in civil penalties to resolve its failure to promptly notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about air pollution control defects on numerous 1998-2006 model vehicles. Mercedes must also improve its emissions defect investigation and reporting system to ensure future compliance, at an estimated cost of approximately $1 million per year.
After the EPA initiated its investigation of this matter, Mercedes commenced voluntary recalls for two of the defects and notified owners that it would extend the warranty coverage to address a third defect. Mercedes will incur an estimated cost of $59 million to implement the recalls and the extended warranty.
The vehicles subject to the voluntary recalls and extended warranties may have defective catalytic converters or defective air pumps.
Reliable and effective automobile pollution control systems are essential to protect human health and the environment from harmful automobile emissions. Mercedes’ failure to alert EPA to a number of defects in emission-related components over a multi-year period is a serious violation because it deprived EPA of the opportunity to promptly determine whether emission standards would be exceeded and whether to order a recall of any of these vehicles.—Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division
The Clean Air Act requires auto manufacturers to file a defect information report with EPA not more than 15 working days after an emission-related defect is found to affect 25 or more vehicles, so that EPA may consider whether the defect will cause emission standards to be exceeded and whether a recall is necessary.
The voluntary recalls and extended warranty will reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants caused by the defects by more than 500 tons cumulatively, according to the EPA. These pollutants include nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO).