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State announces $1.5 billion settlement against Daimler for selling cars that cheated emissions test

Approximately 36,946 non-compliant vehicles were sold in California for which the automaker will be responsible for fixing

Sacramento, Calif.— California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $1.5 billion settlement against Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz USA and their affiliates and subsidiaries for undisclosed emission control devices on its diesel Sprinter vans and passenger vehicles from model years 2009 through 2016.

As part of the settlement, California will receive about $300 million, including $17.5 million to the California Department of Justice for future environmental enforcement, monitoring, and investigation, as well as to support environmentally beneficial projects in California.

“Longterm, if you cheat, you’re going to get caught. Daimler is finding that out today. But they’re not the first — nor likely the last — to try,” Becerra said“If you pollute more than others, then you must do more than others. Installing defeat device software on your vehicles to deceive emissions regulators doesn’t qualify as doing more. It just means you’ll pay more in penalties once we catch you.” 

The settlement resolves allegations that Daimler violated environmental and civil laws by using defeat device software to circumvent emissions testing. This software enables vehicles’ emissions controls to perform more effectively when being run through EPA and CARB test cycles than in real world driving conditions. 

Daimler is alleged to have sold about 250,000 passenger cars and vans in the U.S. with diesel engines that did not comply with state and federal laws and regulations governing vehicle emissions and certifications. Of those, approximately 36,946 non-compliant vehicles were sold in California, emitting excess NOx, a smog-forming pollution that exacerbates asthma and other health problems. As part of the settlement, Daimler will be required to pay civil penalties, fix the vehicles, and mitigate excess NOx emissions. The estimated total cost of the settlement is approximately $1.5 billion.

In 2017, Becerra and CARB announced a $66 million partial settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on its diesel-emissions tests. That was one in a series of partial settlements that in total provided approximately $1.5 billion in relief to California for Volkswagen’s misconduct.

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