Daimler to recall 3 million vehicles to ease diesel doubts

BREMEN, GERMANY - JANUARY 24: The emblem of a Mercedes-Benz of C-Class car is pictured on the assembly line of Mercedes-Benz on January 24, 2017 in Bremen, Germany. Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes, is scheduled to present its financial results for 2016 on February 2. Many German automakers are concerned over recent comments by U.S. President Donald Trump over possible tariffs on cars produced outside of the USA. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

FRANKFURT, Germany — German automaker Daimler says it is voluntarily recalling 3 million diesel cars in Europe to improve their emissions performance.

The Stuttgart-based company, which makes Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, says it is taking the step to reassure drivers and strengthen confidence in diesel technology.

Diesels have been under a cloud since Daimler’s competitor Volkswagen admitted equipping vehicles with illegal software that meant they passed emissions tests, but then exceeded limits in everyday driving. There has been a push for diesel bans in some German cities because of concerns about levels of nitrogen oxide emitted by diesels.

The Daimler announcement comes hours after the regional government in the company’s home region of Baden-Wuerttemburg agreed to abandon proposals to restrict diesels if older diesels could be mechanically fixed to pollute less, the dpa news agency reported.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said Tuesday that “the public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty — especially for our customers.”

The recall will cover nearly all vehicles made under the EU5 and EU6 emissions standards and start in the next few weeks. The company said it would cost 220 million euros ($254.21 million), but that customers wouldn’t pay anything.

Daimler said in May that German investigators had searched its offices in connection with investigations of Daimler employees because of suspicion of fraud and criminal advertising relating to the possible manipulation of exhaust controls in cars with diesel engines. The company has said it is cooperating with the investigation.