· Commercial litigation firm Harcus Parker today announces it is launching a legal action against Mercedes-Benz on behalf of owners of affected taxis and vans
· Harcus Parker acts for taxi drivers and drivers of other affected Mercedes vehicles who claim their vehicles are fitted with unlawful defeat devices similar in principle to those used by Volkswagen.
· As many as 75,000 Mercedes-Benz Vito diesel taxis and vans in UK could be affected
· Any diesel Mercedes car, van or taxi sold between 2011 and 2018 could be affected, in particular Vito taxis and vans.
· Some of these vehicles exceed permitted Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) levels by a factor of 10 during ordinary road use
· NOx has been linked to a variety of respiratory diseases including childhood asthma
· Daimler (the German parent company of Mercedes-Benz) has already been fined EUR870m in Germany for negligently failing properly to supervise the emissions of its vehicles
London commercial litigation firm Harcus Parker is investigating claims on behalf of owners of diesel Mercedes-Benz Vito taxis and vans that the German car manufacturer has installed unlawful ‘defeat devices’ in as many as 250,000 of these vehicles sold in Europe, including 75,000 sold in the UK.
The claim would allege that customers overpaid when they bought their vehicles and lawyers estimate that claimants might be due £5,000 or more each as a result.
Harcus Parker believe that everyone who has bought or leased a diesel Mercedes Vito taxi or van manufactured between 2011 and 2018 might be eligible to claim. Other Mercedes diesel drivers can also join.
Mercedes’ German parent company Daimler was fined EUR870m last year in a Stuttgart court for failing negligently to supervise the production of certain vehicles. In issuing the fine the court took account of ‘gains from the sale of the affected vehicles and saved expenses for the production of vehicles that comply with the regulatory requirements’.
Mercedes has been slow to recall vehicles in the UK, as it appeals the regulatory findings which have been made against it in Germany. Harcus Parker expects Mercedes will issue a recall and provide owners with the opportunity to have their vehicles “fixed”. But it says its clients have heard stories of reliability issues and performance damage in other vehicles which have been forced to have similar procedures applied to them.
Air quality is a huge issue in the UK, particularly in cities where many of these vehicles are driven. A report by the Royal College of Physicians in 2016 estimated that around 40,000 deaths in the UK each year are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution.
NOxemissions in particular have been linked to diseases as diverse as childhood asthma and teenage psychosis, while recent reports have identified people exposed to poor air quality as being more likely to suffer from severe Covid-19 symptoms.
Harcus Parker say they have seen data which seems to imply that some Mercedes vehicles emit up to 10 times more NOx emissions in normal use than they should, and the problem appears to be endemic within Euro 5 and Euro 6 vehicles. These are vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2019.
Harcus Parker says these vehicles are expensive, and carry with them an expectation that they are responsibly made and contain the most up to date and technologically sound solutions to difficult problems like air pollution and that it is wrong for car manufacturers to continue to ignore rules on air quality and contribute to the ever-present problem of rapidly deteriorating air quality in towns and cities.
A claim would be intended to bring these problems to light and give a new impetus to manufacturers, regulators and purchasers to introduce new, clean vehicles that can be used safely for years to come.