US Sues Fiat Chrysler Over Emissions Cheating Accusations

US Sues Fiat Chrysler Over Emissions Cheating Accusations

Fiat Chrysler was the subject of a legal complaint by the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday, which alleges the automaker violated federal emissions laws by installing "defeat devices" on more than 100,000 diesel engine vehicles in the United States.

In the latest case, the government alleges that Fiat Chrysler, or FCA, put eight "software-based features" on diesel engines in almost 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years.

The lawsuit states almost 104,000 vehicles are "equipped with software functions that were not disclosed to regulators during the certification application process, and that the vehicles contain defeat devices", the Justice Department said in the complaint, which was filed Tuesday on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. "This results in cars that meet emission standards in the laboratory and during standard EPA testing, but during certain normal on-road driving emit oxides of nitrogen that are much higher than the EPA-compliant level".

The Justice Department filed a civil suit on Tuesday accusing Fiat Chrysler of illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 2014-2016 diesel and labeled the software "defeat devices".

A "defeat device" is any motor vehicle hardware, software, or design that interferes with or disables emissions controls under real-world driving conditions, even if the vehicle passes formal emissions testing.

Analysts also noted that FCA's vehicles are equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems for cutting NOx emissions, so it is likely that any problem could be fixed through a software update.

Italian automaker Fiat acquired Chrysler in 2014 for $4.9 billion.

Last week, Fiat Chrysler announced that it completed a software update that it believes will address regulators' concerns. The fix would also be implemented on 2014-2016 model year vehicles to bring them into line with EPA and CARB regulations. The EPA had previously stated that a fine of up to $4.6 billion could potentially be issued out to FCA.

Fiat Chrysler vehicles were allowed to skip key emissions tests during Italy's probe into emissions-cheating software, according to a report earlier in 2017. If the agency approves the proposed settings for the automaker's 2017 diesels, the company said, the carmaker would then make the same modifications to the older vehicles under scrutiny. Fiat has denied it deliberately cheated in emissions tests. The company said its agriculture unit "has made an informal approach to Bunge Limited regarding a possible consensual business combination".

The suit said VM employees from Italy worked at Fiat Chrysler's MI headquarters on engine calibration and air emission issues.

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