The lawsuit was filed by a Mercedes owner in Illinois, who claims the automaker uses the device in its BlueTec cars to turn off a system meant to reduce nitrogen oxide in its exhaust. The law firm representing the plaintiff said in a statement that on-road testing had shown Mercedes's Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that were 19 times above the U.S. standard, with some instantaneous readings as high as 65 times more than the US limit.
According to the complaint, the device in Mercedes' diesel models turns off pollution controls at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), allowing the autos to violate emissions standards.
Further, according to a study done by independent testing agency TNO for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, in real-world testing, the Mercedes C-Class 220 emits more nitrogen oxide than measured in laboratory results.
"Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be 'clean' diesels when it is warm, but are 'dirty' diesels when it is not,"according to the complaint. "Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people."
The lawsuit also contends that even if Mercedes is able to make the cars compliant with emissions standards, those who drive them will suffer harm because the vehicles won't perform as promised or advertised.
The plaintiff is seeking to represent a nationwide class of includes all US-based residents and entities that bought or leased an affected vehicle as of this month, and a court order compelling Mercedes to recall the affected models or replace them for free, in addition to unspecified damages.
Among the enumerated models are Mercedes' ML320 and 350 sport utility vehicles, its E- and S-Class cars, and GLE crossovers. Plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.
The lawsuit is Lynevych v. Mercedes-Benz USA, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.