The saga mainly affects the C-Class (pictured), GLC and Vito.

Berlin - Germany's Transport Ministry announced on Monday that 774 000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe had been found to contain unauthorised software, aka 'defeat devices', and ordered parent company Daimler to recall more than 200 000 cars in Germany.

The main offenders in this case are diesel-powered versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, GLC SUV as well as Vito commercial vehicle.

"The government will order 238 000 Daimler vehicles to be immediately recalled Germany-wide because of unauthorised defeat devices," the ministry said in a statement.

Germany can only order the recall of vehicles within its own borders, or of those vehicles issued with a pan-European road-worthiness certification via German authorities.

Daimler has pledged to work on removing the software and to cooperate with authorities, the ministry said.

'Technical solution'

Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said on Monday that the carmaker had found a technical solution for updating the software on its vehicles, and he therefore expected the company would avoid a fine.

In a separate statement, Daimler confirmed the recall and said the question over the legality of the software would still need to be clarified.

"We don't see any evidence that Daimler was designing software to deliberately cheat on emission testing," he said. "Overall, this outcome should de-risk the stock." 

Dieselgate scandal

So-called defeat devices were at the heart of Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal, in which the world's largest carmaker admitted in September 2015 to installing them in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Vehicles kept to legal emissions limits for harmful substances like nitrogen oxides during lab tests, only to exceed them as much as 40 times in on-road driving.

The scandal has so far cost the world's largest carmaker over 25 billion euros (R387.5bn) in fines, buybacks and compensation, and senior executives are under investigation over their roles in the cheating.

Other German carmakers have also been forced to recall vehicles to fix manipulated software, although none has so far admitted to mass cheating as Volkswagen did.

Reuters & AFP