Last week, German transport minister Andreas Scheuer threatened to sue Daimler to the tune of 3.75 billion euros (about RM17.6 billion) if Mercedes-Benz was found to have cheated emissions regulators with “defeat devices” installed in its diesel-powered cars.

Well, as it turns out, the German Transport Ministry has ordered the tristar company to recall up to 774,000 cars across Europe after tests found that they each ran an unauthorised software that could be used to manipulate diesel exhaust emissions. According to an official statement by the ministry, selected Vito, C-Class and GLC models in Germany are involved in this recall.

“The government will order 238,000 Daimler vehicles to be immediately recalled Germany wide because of unauthorised defeat devices,” the Ministry said. It’s unclear exactly which models are being recalled, but the Vito 119 CDI, C 220 d and GLC 220 d have been identified, according to Autocar.

While the ministry has yet to reveal the age of the cars involved, officials suggest they include latest-gen models with EU6 emission certification. This recall follows after Scheuer met Mercedes-Benz chairman, Dieter Zetsche, in Berlin to discuss what has been described as “irregularities in independent test results of various Mercedes-Benz models featuring the German car maker’s turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine.”

Since then, Daimler has pledged to remove the illegal software and co-operate with authorities. Among the functions brought into question by the German Transport Ministry is the software used to regulate the amount of Ad Blue solution injected into the SCR filter that’s fitted to the recalled vehicles.

Apparently, Autocar notes that the software is programmed to lower the amount of Ad Blue being injected into the SCR filter after a prescribed time. This reduces the efficiency of the SCR filter and leads to much higher nitrous oxide emissions when driving in the real world – higher than those claimed by Mercedes-Benz under test conditions.

Mercedes-Benz said it had developed a technical solution that would enable it to update the software, and Zetsche suggests the move could see the company avoid possible fines by the European Union.

Just two months ago in April, Zetsche said Mercedes-Benz customers are showing more confidence in diesel by continuing to buy them in significant numbers. He also said that diesel cars are crucial to reducing the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere.

“I do believe it is not to the benefit of society to turn down the benefits of CO2 savings that diesels offer. We are talking a lot about NOx but I believe CO2 is still the biggest issue,” he explained. However, some factions are calling diesel a “technology of the past,” with Volvo and Nissan each announcing plans to stop further development of the oil-burning engine.