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Mercedes-Benz Pays $1.2 Million for Clean Air Act Violation Also Spends $59 Million for Voluntary Recall

Release Date: 12/21/2006
Contact Information: Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 / ryan.dave@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Dec. 21, 2006) Mercedes-Benz will pay $1.2 million in civil penalties to resolve its failure to promptly notify EPA about air pollution control defects on numerous 1998 - 2006 model vehicles. Mercedes must also improve its emissions defect investigation and reporting system to ensure future compliance, at an estimated cost of approximately $1 million per year.

After EPA initiated its investigation of this matter, Mercedes commenced voluntary recalls for two of the defects and notified owners that it would extend the warranty coverage to address a third defect. Mercedes will incur an estimated cost of $59 million to implement the recalls and the extended warranty.

"These defect reporting requirements are a critical part of EPA's program to reduce air pollution by ensuring that vehicles on the road comply with the Clean Air Act's emissions standards," said Catherine R. McCabe, principal deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"Reliable and effective automobile pollution control systems are essential to protect human health and the environment from harmful automobile emissions," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Mercedes' failure to alert EPA to a number of defects in emission-related components over a multi-year period is a serious violation because it deprived EPA of the opportunity to promptly determine whether emission standards would be exceeded and whether to order a recall of any of these vehicles."

The Clean Air Act requires auto manufacturers to file a defect information report with EPA not more than 15 working days after an emission-related defect is found to affect 25 or more vehicles, so that EPA may consider whether the defect will cause emission standards to be exceeded and whether a recall is necessary.

The vehicles subject to the voluntary recalls and extended warranties may have defective catalytic converters or defective air pumps. The voluntary recalls and extended warranty will reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants caused by the defects by over 500 tons cumulatively. These pollutants include nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO). NMHC and NOx are key ingredients in the production of ozone, a major contributor to cancer-causing smog. CO impairs breathing and is especially harmful to children, people with asthma, and the elderly.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

More information about the Mercedes-Benz settlement: epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/mercedes.html

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