Chorley and Leyland locals are suing Mercedes for falsifying emissions
The claim is over Mercedes' use of a 'defeat' device which under-represents the true extent of emissions.
Four men from Chorley and Leyland have grouped together to sue Mercedes over their role in the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, in which Mercedes is alleged to have used defeat devices, to avoid complying with the law regarding diesel car emissions.
Chorley locals Michael Firth, James Butterworth and Eric Kos, as well as Stephen McIntyre from Leyland, are working with national consumer rights law firm Slater and Gordon to bring the claim, after finding out they had bought affected cars.
Gareth Pope, the lawyer in charge of the claim at Slater and Gordon, said: “Our clients will allege that Mercedes knowingly installed unlawful defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of UK vehicles that allowed them to pass emissions tests designed to protect human health and the environment while still being highly polluting on the road. As a result, our clients will allege that they have been deceived into purchasing these polluting vehicles for more than they were worth. As part of the deception, our clients will also allege that Mercedes participated in a cartel with other German manufacturers, including Volkswagen, to suppress the development and implementation of cleaner emissions technology in order to maximise their profits.”
The claim is expected to become a group action litigation, with Slater and Gordon, who are also joint lead solicitors in the Volkswagen dieselgate claim, currently representing around 14,000 claimants across the country.
It is estimated that 600,000 Mercedes vehicles in the UK may have been affected between 2008 and 2018, with a potential one million individuals able to make a claims of up to £10,000 each.
Drivers can join the claim whether they purchased their affected vehicle new or second hand, and the claim is fully funded by Asertis, an independent litigation funder, allowing people to seek compensation from Mercedes without risking their own money.
Eric Kos, a 65 year old Health and Safety Consultant from Chorley, who has owned five Mercedes in his life, said: “I’ve been driving Mercedes since 2004 and always trusted them to build quality cars, and when that story broke on the Volkswagen issue, I thought that surely can't happen with a brand as trusted as Mercedes but low and behold a few years later, there you have it, it appears that they have been engaging in the same sort of activity to dupe customers into believing their cars are better than they are and I was just really surprised, it broke a trust which I’d built up over many many years.
"You’re paying a premium price for what you think is a premium quality brand so to be told that actually they're engaging in practices that are no better than the other manufacturers, just broke the trust, and for a company to fight so hard to build up that trust with its customers, only to break it so easily, is quite disgusting and disgraceful."
Eric added: "I've loved the cars, and I've never had a reason to go anywhere over these last 13 years, but I can't be doing with lairs. I loathe now to buy another Mercedes, in fact I’m moving to electric next and this was the trigger to make that decision."
Michael Firth, another claimant from Chorley, commented: "I felt let down when I learned of Mercedes’ use of defeat devices in their diesel cars as I always thought that Mercedes Benz were better than that. I believe the use of these cheat devices has hastened the move towards EV cars which are expensive, inconvenient and inferior to conventionally powered cars. I am keen that all of us who have been let down by Mercedes should receive the compensation we are due in the same way as consumers in other countries have, notably the USA. It was especially disappointing to see that Mercedes colluded with other car manufacturers to suppress technology that could have reduced the vehicles’ emissions and protected young children (including my grandchildren) and the environment."
In June 2018, Mercedes was found by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to have installed cheating software in their diesel engines to avoid regulatory requirements and was forced to recall 774,000 vehicles across Europe.
These ‘defeat devices’ limited emissions during testing, underrepresenting the true emissions released on the road, resulting in Mercedes diesel engines not complying with regulations on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, was also fined €870m in September 2019 for negligent violation in relation to their avoidance of emissions regulations, as well as settling an investigation in the United States for a reported $1.5bn, and a class action case against them for $700m.
The KBA then ordered Mercedes to recall approximately 90,000 affected vehicles in England and Wales, as well as Mercedes issuing voluntary recall notices.
Moreover, in July, the European Commission found that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen Group, which includes VW, Audi and Porsche, had breached antitrust rules by colluding to avoid further developments on lowering NOx emissions in diesel vehicles, as away to avoid competition, despite the relevant technology being available.
Despite these previous cases, Mercedes has expressed its intention to fight the claims launched in the United Kingdom, forcing UK customers to take Mercedes to court in an attempt to secure compensation.
Local residents can check if a vehicle they own, or have owned in the past, was impacted by the scandal and if they are eligible to join the claim, here.