The Group remains exposed to risks from guarantees and legal risks. Provisions are recognized for those risks if and to the extent that they are likely to be utilized and the amounts of the obligations can be reasonably estimated.
Risks from guarantees. The issue of guarantees results in liability risks for the Group. For example, Daimler holds an equity interest in the system for recording and charging tolls for the use of highways in Germany by commercial vehicles. The operation of the electronic toll-collection system is the responsibility of the operator company, Toll Collect GmbH, in which Daimler holds a 45% stake and which is included in the consolidated financial statements using the equity method of accounting. In addition to Daimler’s membership of the Toll Collect consortium and its equity interest in Toll Collect GmbH, risks also arise from guarantees that Daimler has assumed with the other partners in the Toll Collect consortium (Deutsche Telekom AG and Cofiroute S.A.) supporting obligations of Toll Collect GmbH toward the Federal Republic of Germany in connection with the toll system and a call option of the Federal Republic of Germany. Claims could be made under those guarantees if toll revenue is lost for technical reasons, if certain contractually defined performance parameters are not fulfilled, if additional claims are made by the Federal Republic of Germany, if the final operating permit is not granted, if Toll Collect GmbH fails to meet contractual obligations, if it fails to have the required equipment available, or if the Federal Republic of Germany takes over Toll Collect GmbH. The maximum loss risk for the Group from these risks can be substantial. Additional information is provided in note 29 (Legal proceedings) and note 30 (Financial guarantees, contingent liabilities and other financial commitments) of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.
Legal risks. Various legal proceedings, claims and government investigations (legal proceedings) are pending against Daimler AG and its subsidiaries on a wide range of topics, including vehicle safety, emissions, fuel economy, financial services, dealer, supplier and other contractual relationships, intellectual property rights, warranty claims, environmental matters, legal proceedings relating to competition law and shareholder litigation. Product-related litigation involves claims alleging faults in vehicles, some of which have been made as class actions.
Adverse decisions in one or more of these proceedings could require us to pay substantial compensatory and punitive damages or undertake service actions, recall campaigns or other costly actions. Some of these proceedings may have an impact on the Group’s reputation. It is possible, as these proceedings are connected with a large degree of uncertainty, that after the final resolution of litigation, some of the provisions we have recognized for legal proceedings could prove to be insufficient. As a result, substantial additional expenditures may arise. This also applies to legal proceedings for which the Group has seen no requirement to recognize a provision.
Although the final result of any such litigation may influence the Group’s earnings and cash flows in any particular period, Daimler believes that any resulting obligations are unlikely to have a sustained effect on the Group’s cash flows, financial position or profitability. Further information on legal proceedings is provided in note 29 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.