Feds say Chrysler cheated on diesel emissions tests - FCA responds quickly

DETROIT — The U.S. government is accusing Fiat Chrysler of failing to disclose software in some of its pickups and SUVs with diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution than allowed under the Clean Air Act.


Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler was quick to issue a statement on the EPA’s action.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement Thursday that it issued a “notice of violation” to the company that covers about 104,000 vehicles including the 2014 through 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickups, all with 3-liter diesel engines. The California Air Resources Board took similar action.

The EPA scheduled a news conference Thursday to explain details of the case.

“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, EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance.

Fiat Chrysler’s quick initial response said it is “disappointed” that the EPA decided to issue the violation notice.

“FCA US intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA US customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements,” the Fiat Chrysler Alliance statement says in part.

The EPA said it will continue to investigate the “nature and impact” of the devices. The agency said FCA may be liable for civil penalties for the alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. The EPA is investigating whether the auxiliary emission control devices constitute “defeat devices,” which are illegal because they turn off pollution controls.

Fiat Chrysler’s shares fell more than 16 percent after the news was announced to $9.29.

In its statement, Fiat Chrysler states that it has spent months providing lots of information in response to EPA requests to explain its emissions control technology , and proposed actions to address the federal agency’ concerns. Those responses included developing extensive software changes to emissions control strategies that could be implemented in the trucks and Jeeps immediately to further improve emissions performance.

“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,” the FCA statement added.

The EPA announcement and Fiat Chrysler response come only a day after Fiat rival Volkswagen pleaded guilty in federal court to criminal charges related to widespread cheating involving emissions tests with its “Clean Diesel” line of vehicles. Six high-ranking VW executives have been charged in the scandal. VW agreed to pay a record $4.3 billion penalty for cheating on emissions tests.