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Daimler, Audi updating millions of diesels to avoid bans in Europe

The fixes only involve software, which means it should be a relatively tidy process.

Ever since Dieselgate hit the news cycle, there has been a growing concern over emissions of all diesel vehicles, not just Volkswagen's. To help assuage fears, German automakers are recalling millions of cars to reduce emissions.

In order to stave off such measures as banning diesel vehicles in cities, automakers will voluntarily recall vehicles to update their emissions software, Reuters reports, citing industry and government sources. The whole shebang should cost about $2.3 billion, with automakers paying about $116 per vehicle recalled.

A software update sure beats a ban.

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Daimler will end up recalling more than 3 million Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe, an expansion of a recall that originally covered just 250,000 compacts and vans. The fix will be entirely software-based, and it will affect vehicles that adhere to both Euro-5 and Euro-6 diesel standards.

Daimler came under fire within the last few months for allegedly gaming the system (by "all legal means") with its diesel vehicles. It was the subject of a German government probe, as well as a similar probe by the US government. Daimler has greatly curtailed the number of diesel vehicles on offer in the US this year.

Audi, the luxury arm of Volkswagen Group, has issued a similar recall. Audi's recall affects approximately 850,000 vehicles using six- and eight-cylinder diesel engines, and it will also be a software-based solution to further curtail emissions. The patch will also work on Porsche- and Volkswagen-branded vehicles with the same engines.

Diesel is a much bigger business in Europe, thanks to taxes that make diesel an affordable fuel option. Diesel vehicles traditionally feature gobs of torque and surprisingly high fuel economy, which adds to their appeal. But when Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing software that only curtailed emissions during government tests, the whole house of cards started falling down. Since then, automakers and governments alike have placed a greater emphasis on electric vehicles in order to move past diesel engines, although any solution to that end is still a decade (or more) away.