Since rival Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating United States emissions tests, German automakers including Daimler and BMW have faced a backlash against diesel technology in which they have invested billions of euros.
Mercedes owner Daimler has been ordered to recall hundreds of thousands of its cars because the German Transport Ministry says they're fitted with emissions defeat devices.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer summoned Zetsche after the country's KBA Motor Vehicle Authority discovered "inadmissible defeat devices" in Mercedes-Benz engines, even as Daimler disputes they were illegal.
The affected vehicles include the Mercedes-Benz Vito delivery van and the Mercedes GLC 220d and C220d.
The Mercedes-Benz star is displayed on the front of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle at the annual news conference of German auto giant Daimler AG in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on February 1, 2018.
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The Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt said 238,000 vehicles in the country have unauthorised software fitted and has demanded that they are fixed immediately by the auto maker. Last year, Mercedes-Benz retrofitted roughly 3 million cars with modified emissions controls to bring those cars into compliance with Euro 5 and Euro 6 regulations.
Daimler is being rapped by German authorities after a series of meetings between the two parties failed to properly explain away the discovery of five purported "illegal switch-off devices" found in the Benz's diesel engines. However, the KBA had taken issue with the emissions control features amid suspicion they allowed vehicles to emit excess pollution without detection. The alleged emissions defeat devices were revealed by Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority.
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.
Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst predicted the costs for the required software update for Daimler would be less than 100million euros (£88million).