The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA, of installing a hidden software to purposefully let excess diesel emission go undetected, a practice that entails Clean Air Act violations. The accusation comes as the result of a probe stemming from regulators’ investigation of Volkswagen, its rival.
FCA Cheating Emission Tests
As per the EPA, specific vehicles releasing excess nitrogen oxide emissions are the “light-duty model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines.”
FCA’s alleged measures might have been bubbling under the surface for a while now — several class action lawsuits against the UK-based automaker suggest that some of its vehicles were utilizing defeat devices to manipulate emission tests. Only now has the federal government stepped into the narrative. It’s yet to be determined whether the FCA did turn to defeat devices as an illegal subterfuge, but at this point, federal involvement spells potentially disastrous results for the company.
Another Volkswagen Situation
Take Volkswagen‘s similar situation into account. After it was confirmed that the company was in fact engaged in widespread emission test cheating, it was handed down a whopping $4.3 billion draft settlement with U.S. regulators as a resolve, reportedly the largest given to a U.S. automaker.
At this point, FCA’s infractions seems to be a smaller affair than the Volkswagen’s. The EPA alleges that the claim’s scope included around 104,000 automobiles. By contrast, Volkswagen’s covered nearly 500,000 — five times many as FCA’s, at least as the record stands today. It’s certainly possible that there could be more. Despite the disparity, the fact that an automaker has again opted to be mendacious about diesel emissions is rather troubling.
The EPA is collaborating with the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, which has also accused FCA of the same violation.
“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said Mary D. Nichols, CARB’s Chair.
At present, FCA is denying the allegations and appears to be seeking help from the Trump administration. According to its statement posted by CNBC, FCA intends to work with the incoming administration to course-correct the matter and hope for a resolution. FCA wants to assure its customers and the EPA that its vehicles “meet all applicable regulatory requirements.”
For a bit of perspective, the Clean Air Act makes it mandatory for automakers to demonstrate to EPA that their vehicles follow applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. Part of the certification process requires that automakers disclose and explain any software that’s able to manipulate how vehicles emit air pollution.
FCA intends to meet with the EPA and prove that its emission control measures are “properly justified” and are not defeat devices.
Evidence against the automaker, however, seems convincingly solid — the EPA says that it has discovered at least eight pieces of emission-altering software, a clear violation of the Clean Air Act.
Could this balloon into another Volkswagen-type fiasco? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!
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