ATLANTA -- The recall of 1 million new and late-model Mercedes-Benz vehicles because of fire risk isn't expected to hurt the brand's U.S. sales in March.
While several new models are affected by the recall, dealers will be able to quickly repair any such vehicles in their inventory, according to Mercedes-Benz USA and the head of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board.
"Parts are flowing to dealers weekly, so I feel pretty confident," said Ken Schnitzer, the dealer board chairman and owner of four Mercedes-Benz stores in Texas. "We're in good shape with the inventory."
The number of affected new vehicles in U.S. dealership inventory is unclear. Mercedes-Benz USA wouldn't provide an exact number but indicated that it was fewer than 20,000 vehicles.
The fix on consumer-owned vehicles will begin in the U.S. in July, when parts are available.
Parent company Daimler AG this month disclosed the recall of certain C-class, E-class and CLA cars and GLA and GLC crossovers from the 2015 through 2017 model years because of a defective fuse. The number of vehicles affected in the U.S. is 307,629.
Fires can occur when the engine won't start because of prior damage and repeated attempts are made to start the vehicle.
A very high electric current can flow through the starting current limiter and cause it to overheat. The defective part is made by Gruner AG of Germany, at least for the vehicles in the U.S., according to Daimler's U.S. regulatory filing.
Daimler said no injuries or deaths have occurred in 51 reported vehicle fires, which include 30 in the U.S. It is an unusual occurrence and a byproduct of externally caused engine or transmission damages, a Mercedes spokeswoman said.
The damage is almost always from the engine sucking in water and seizing, typically after the vehicle encounters flooding.
Engineers at Daimler's Stuttgart headquarters are developing a kit to repair the vehicles by installing an additional fuse in the electrical line to the starter.
Dealers can fix their inventory because they have some early parts, the Mercedes spokeswoman said, but it's not enough for the entire recall campaign to launch.
The fix is different for vehicles in production. A new part/assembly has been developed for the production line, the spokeswoman said.
Reuters contributed to this report.