U.S. Government Suing FCA for Cheating Emissions Tests
May 29, 2017—The U.S. government is suing Fiat Chrysler, alleging that some of its diesel pickup trucks and Jeep SUVs cheat on emissions tests, according to Fox News.
The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department marks the second time the government has gone after an automaker alleging use of software on diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution on the road than during EPA lab testing.
Last year, the government accused Volkswagen of cheating on tests, and the company ended up pleading guilty to criminal charges in a scandal that cost VW more than $20 billion in the U.S. alone.
In the latest case, which Chrysler attempted to settle out of court with U.S. regulators, the government alleges the car company put eight "software-based features" on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years. The software allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during lab tests by EPA than during normal driving conditions.
The 3-liter FCA diesels emit nitrogen oxide at a much higher rate than allowed under federal laws when on the road, the EPA said in a statement. The company failed to disclose the software during the process to become certified so the vehicles can be sold, according to the EPA. The agency called the software a "defeat device" that changes the way the vehicles perform on treadmill tests in a laboratory.
"Each of these vehicles differs materially from the specifications provided to EPA in the certification applications," the statement said. "Thus the cars are uncertified, in violation of the Clean Air Act."
The automaker said in a statement that it is disappointed that the lawsuit was filed because it has been working with the EPA for months to clarify pollution control issues. FCA has contended that unlike VW, it did not install the software with intent to cheat on tests.
"The company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests."
In the lawsuit filed in Detroit federal court, the government seeks civil fines that could total over $4 billion, as well as court orders stopping the company from making or selling vehicles with undisclosed software.
The EPA issued a "notice of violation" against FCA, exposing the software in January in the waning days of the Obama administration. FCA had planned to appeal to the administration of President Donald Trump for help after Trump promised fewer government regulations.
At the time, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne denied any wrongdoing and said the agency was blowing the issue out of proportion.