German newspaper Bild am Sonntag printed a report claiming that Mercedes planted two software devices that turn on emissions-reduction equipment only when diesel engines being tested.
The first, Bit 15, turned off emissions equipment after 16 miles of driving, presumably the longest they expected government or private testers to be using a car, truck, or van for testing. The second, Slipguard, was designed to recognize when the vehicle was being tested in a laboratory — similar to Volkswagen’s systems.
Perhaps more damning evidence, given that Mercedes could have otherwise blamed the systems on its supplier, Bosch, there were allegedly emails from Mercedes engineers asking if the software routines were legal.
So far, the United States has not filed charges against Mercedes’ builder, Daimler, but the investigation has not yet been closed. The newspaper quoted a Daimler spokesman as saying that the documents had been selected to harm their company, and pointed to the number of employees they have, presumably to pressure the German government to ignore the information.
The first automaker to be caught using software to shut off emissions devices, unless the vehicle was being tested, was Volkswagen, also known for its Audi brand. Within the United States, over a half million cars from Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche were only reducing diesel emissions while the computers believed they were being tested. Original article (in German)
The author of Dodge Viper, Jeep’s Go-Anywhere Vehicles, and The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans, David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.info and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form (preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304.