EPA Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Doctoring Diesel Emissions Results

Published on January 26, 2017 02:18 PM in Driver Tech, Auto Performance
EPA  Accuses  Fiat Chrysler of Doctoring  Diesel Emissions Results

More than 100,000 Jeep and Dodge vehicles contain software that falsify emissions data, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The EPA claims Fiat Chrysler knowingly and intentionally devised equipment that increased emissions of nitrogen oxides in light-duty Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines. Nitrogen oxides are poisonous, highly reactive gases created when fuel is burned at high temperatures. Models made between 2014 and 2016 are affected, according to the EPA.

“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,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “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.”

Fiat Chrysler disputed the claims in a press release Thursday morning, saying their engines are simply equipped with state-of-the-art emission control systems hardware.

"FCA US looks forward to the opportunity to meet with the EPA's enforcement division and representatives of the new administration to demonstrate that FCA US's emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus are not 'defeat devices' under applicable regulations and to resolve this matter expeditiously," the release read. 

The EPA's allegation mirrors a scandal that saw Volkswagen indicted by the Justice Department. In Volkswagen's case, the German automanufaturer installed software into diesel engines on around 600,000 vehicles that would turn on pollution controls during government tests and switch them off in real-world driving. Nicknamed a "defeat device" because it defeated the emissions controls, the software produced nitrogen oxide up to 40 times more than the approved limit.

Volkswagen recently admitted guilt and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, the largest fine ever levied on an automaker by the federal government. Six Volkswagen employees have also been indicted for their part in the scandal. 

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne flatly rejected any comparison between Volkswagen and his company. He told Reuters that anyone comparing these allegations to Volkswagen's is "smoking illegal material."

One environmental regulator draws a line from Volkswagen's miscondut and the allegations against Fiat Chrysler. 

“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said Mary D. Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Control Board, an agency also investigating Fiat Chysler. CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration."

Fiat Chrysler shares took a 13 percent dive Thursday morning after the EPA's announcement.