Reports that state prosecutors have launched an investigation into German automaker Daimler for cheating on diesel emissions mark a new step in the scandal that started with Volkswagen but may now overtake even the prestigious Mercedes brand.
Until now, Daimler has largely escaped close scrutiny in the scandal that has engulfed VW and its subsidiaries, Audi and Porsche. The maker of Mercedes cars has maintained from the beginning of the scandal that it had not cheated on emissions and would fully cooperate with authorities in their investigations.
But now prosecutors in Stuttgart have confirmed they are investigating at least two Daimler employees on suspicion of putting emissions-cheating software into vehicles. The software lowers harmful emissions during testing far below those in actual road performance. The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung has reported that as many as 1 million diesel-powered Mercedes vehicles sold in Europe and the United States may be involved, a number that prosecutors would not confirm publicly. A spokesperson said the investigation remains in its infancy.
The news follows a sweeping police raid in May of Daimler offices throughout Germany to search for evidence of possible cheating. The individuals now being investigated are not members of the company’s management board. Nonetheless, the latest revelations prompted German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt to call for an immediate meeting Thursday of Daimler’s executives with a committee investigating what has become known as the “Dieselgate” scandal.