Three months ago, in July, the European Commission fined two of the world’s biggest German automakers, Volkswagen and BMW. The manufacturers, along with Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, were found to have conspired in delaying the production of cleaner vehicles despite having the technology to do so. According to the commission, the three carmakers broke the EU’s antitrust laws by agreeing to restrict technical development essential for cleaning and clearing pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides.
While Volkswagen paid around £425 million (€502 million) and BMW was asked to pay around £316 million (€373 million), Daimler was not fined as it blew the whistle about the dealings to the Commission.
The three manufacturers, together with VW Group car brands Porsche and Audi, worked alongside each other for about five years and agreed to inject urea into the exhaust gases of vehicles. The process helped lower the amount of diesel emissions, but also significantly affected engine performance. Urea is a chemical that comes from the urine of mammals. It is more popularly known as AdBlue.
VW, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz provided each other with sensitive and relevant information, including those in relation to AdBlue average consumption, ranges, and tank sizes. EU authorities also believed that the German manufacturers were all aware of the effects of using more AdBlue on vehicles. Furthermore, they all agreed to refrain from cleaning their vehicles more efficiently and going above law-regulated standards.
As such, they had the capacity and technology to lower nitrogen oxides emissions but did not compete with each other and realise their technology’s full potential in paving the way for eco-friendly solutions to gain more traction. The commission said that colluding to restrict technology, innovation, and competition takes away the customers’ right to benefit from developments. The act was also considered as cartel behaviour, something that is unacceptable in the EU community.
Although all the involved carmakers admitted their participation in the conspiracy and paid the fines, Volkswagen and BMW representatives considered filing an appeal in relation to the fines. For its part, Daimler announced that they did not find any evidence of conspiracy in using illegal defeat devices.
This alarming development only added more fuel to the fire initially created by the 2015 diesel emission scandal that started with Volkswagen. The scandal quickly took global spotlight after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorities announced that they discovered defeat devices fitted into several VW diesel vehicles.
Months later, the emissions scandal reached European shores as thousands upon thousands of diesel vehicles were found to have used the cheat software as well. Aside from the VW scandal, the Mercedes Benz emissions scandal has also greatly affected the automotive industry and its customers. BMW was also implicated in the scam, along with Alfa Romeo, Renault, Ford, Fiat, Suzuki, Vauxhall, Citroën, Jeep, and Peugeot.
Defeat devices are harmful to the environment because they hide the real amount of NOx or nitrogen oxides that vehicles emit. When the car is in testing, the device lowers the emissions to make them appear safe and legal. However, when driven on the road or outside the lab and in real-world conditions, the vehicles emit extremely high levels of NOx.
NOx is harmful not only to the environment but also to human health. It is a pollutant that contains poisonous gases, specifically nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). They form acid rain and smog, and are also responsible for the formation of dangerous ground-level ozone. NOx also produces particulate matter, particularly PM2.5, which can easily get into the lungs and affect lung function.
Exposure to low NOx levels can cause eye, ear, nose, lungs, and throat irritation that can lead to shortness of breath, nausea, tiredness, and coughing. Fluid may also build up in the lungs after several days of exposure.
Exposure to high levels of NOx causes fluid buildup in lungs, upper respiratory tract issues, throat tissues swelling and spasms, asthma or aggravated asthma, and reduced tissues oxygenation. Severe effects on human health include lung damage, cancer, and premature death.
Other health issues that can possibly develop due to NOx exposure are headaches, eye irritation, breathing problems, corroded teeth, loss of appetite, and chronic reduction of lung function. Some studies have also indicated that NOx exposure has an effect on one’s mental health and can trigger depression and anxiety.
How to help reduce emissions
If you think your vehicle is affected by the Dieselgate Mercedes Benz scandal, you have to get in touch with your manufacturer. You can visit their website or call their hotline number so you can ask about your rights to file for an emission compensation claim. Like all affected car owners, you are allowed by law to file a lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz so you can get back what you lost when they tricked you into buying a vehicle that’s fitted with cheat software.
Filing for a compensation claim can take months and is often a challenging process, especially if the manufacturer is not easy to deal with. So, you need to work with emission compensation experts who are experienced and trained to help you win your claim. The team at Emissions.co.uk might just be what you need. Aside from offering a no-win, no-fee agreement where you do not have to spend for your claim’s upfront costs even if you lose, the team is dedicated to helping and guiding you every step of the way.