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Fiat Chrysler in DOJ crosshairs over diesel software

Fiat Chrysler in DOJ crosshairs over diesel software

Fiat Chrysler in DOJ crosshairs over diesel software
May 19
19:24 2017


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The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to sue Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the parent company of Jeep and Ram, if they cannot reach an agreement over the automaker’s alleged violations of U.S. environmental laws, Bloomberg reports.

FCA has been under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the DOJ since January because FCA failed to disclose emissions-management software in a number of diesel vehicles and violated the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, the DOJ claimed undisclosed software was used in 2014-16 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 models equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines and that this software permitted increased emissions of nitrogen oxide. In all, the EPA claims approximately 104,000 vehicles used this undisclosed software.

Bloomberg reports talks between the automaker and the DOJ are still ongoing, but a suit has been prepared that could be filed as soon as this week.
 






Fiat Chrysler, for its part, has denied using undisclosed software or other emissions-control systems that produce more pollutants, indicating it will contest the DOJ’s claims in court, if need be.

“FCA U.S. is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a Notice of Violation with respect to the emissions-control technology employed in the company’s 2014-16 model-year light-duty 3.0-liter diesel engines,” the automaker said in a statement back in January.

FCA boss Sergio Marchionne adamantly denied the automaker intentionally used defeat devices but indicated “mistakes” pertaining to the diesel software disclosure may have been made by FCA. FCA sought EPA approval for software patches for 2017 Grand Cherokee and Ram models, which would also be part of a proposed recall campaign involving the earlier 2014-16 models.
 


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“Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle’s engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in January 2017. “We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices. All automakers must play by the same rules, and we will continue to hold companies accountable that gain an unfair and illegal competitive advantage.”

At the time, Giles indicated that the automaker could potentially face $4.6 billion in fines, or $44,539 per vehicle.

The Department of Justice’s suit against Volkswagen followed a similar trajectory, with the automaker eventually being forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles and spend an estimated $25 billion on the recall and buyback process, recently paying the $4.3 billion in criminal fines as part of a separate criminal probe by the DOJ.
 









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