The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a notice of violation to FCA for violating the Clean Air Act and installing and failing to disclose engine management software in 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 trucks.
Apparently, the undisclosed software led to increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) on a total of 104,000 models equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel engines sold in the United States.
“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.”
The EPA is currently still investigating whether the auxiliary emission control devices constitute “defeat devices”, which are illegal.
In response, FCA issued their own statement today, saying that they’re disappointed with the notice of violation and that they look forward to assuring their customers as well as the EPA that their diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.
FCA added that it will “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.”
As a result, FCA shares are down, and a possible maximum fine is said to be at about $4.6 billion, as reported by Reuters. The 104,000 affected trucks and SUVs sold since 2014 also represent about one-sixth of the vehicles found to have illegal software in the Volkswagen case.
“I’m really pissed off,” stated Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, rejecting the allegations during a conference call with reporters. “The way that it has been described, I think, has been unfair to FCA, and that is the thing that disturbs me most.” The FCA boss added that regulators had a “belligerent” view about automakers and that his company doesn’t belong to a class of criminals. “We’re not trying to break the bloody law.”
Today, the Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, went on record encouraging regulators to fully investigate Fiat Chrysler. Laura MacCleery, VP of policy and mobilization for CR had this to say:
“We thank the EPA and the state of California for notifying the public, but there is much more work to be done here. The government must fully investigate Fiat Chrysler and hold it accountable if it illegally deceived consumers. Fiat Chrysler owes it to its customers and the public to immediately come clean about any wrongdoing. If the allegations are true, the company must step up and tell people how it plans to make customers whole and repair the damage to the environment.”
Back in November, we also learned that FCA US became the first US automaker to be sued by consumers, claiming that some of their diesel engines were rigged in order to conceal excess emissions.