Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finds itself in hot water, this time with the EPA. During a conference call this morning, the agency accused FCA of violating diesel emission standards on 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 models equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel from 2014 to 2016. They are also accused of failing to disclose eight different software programs. The EPA alleges the software used on these models allowed them to produce excess pollution. At the moment, the EPA isn't calling the software a defeat device as FCA haven't explained the purpose of this software.
“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. We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in a statement.
In lab tests done by the EPA, the 3.0L EcoDiesel meet emission standards. But at high speeds or driving for extended periods, the effectiveness of the emission's system was reduced by the software.
This possibly explains why the 2017 Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel haven't been given the ok by the EPA as we reported last year.
The EPA says there is no immediate action for owners to take as the vehicles are safe and legal to drive while the investigation continues. FCA could be fined as much $44,539 per vehicle if they are found to be violating the Clean Air Act (about $4.6 billion).
In a statement obtained by Bloomberg, FCA said it “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."
FCA's stock price dropped 16 percent to $9.30 after the news broke. Soon after, trading on the stock was halted.
We'll be watching this and update this story as more information comes in.
EPA Notifies Fiat Chrysler of Clean Air Act Violations
- FCA allegedly installed and failed to disclose software that increases air pollution from vehicles
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued a notice of violation to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and FCA US LLC (collectively FCA) for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act for installing and failing to disclose engine management software in light-duty model year 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines sold in the United States. The undisclosed software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the vehicles. The allegations cover roughly 104,000 vehicles. EPA is working in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has also issued a notice of violation to FCA. EPA and CARB have both initiated investigations based on FCA’s alleged actions.
“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.”
“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to demonstrate to EPA through a certification process that their products meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. As part of the certification process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any software, known as auxiliary emission control devices, that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution. FCA did not disclose the existence of certain auxiliary emission control devices to EPA in its applications for certificates of conformity for model year 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks, despite being aware that such a disclosure was mandatory. By failing to disclose this software and then selling vehicles that contained it, FCA violated important provisions of the Clean Air Act.
FCA may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. EPA is also investigating whether the auxiliary emission control devices constitute “defeat devices,” which are illegal.
In September 2015, EPA instituted an expanded testing program to screen for defeat devices on light duty vehicles. This testing revealed that the FCA vehicle models in question produce increased NOx emissions under conditions that would be encountered in normal operation and use. As part of the investigation, EPA has found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution.
FCA US Response to EPA
January 12, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - FCA US is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation with respect to the emissions control technology employed in the company’s 2014-16 model year light duty 3.0-liter diesel engines.
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.
FCA US diesel engines are equipped with state-of-the-art emission control systems hardware, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR). Every auto manufacturer must employ various strategies to control tailpipe emissions in order to balance EPA’s regulatory requirements for low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and requirements for engine durability and performance, safety and fuel efficiency. FCA US believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.
FCA US has spent months providing voluminous information in response to requests from EPA and other governmental authorities and has sought to explain its emissions control technology to EPA representatives. FCA US has proposed a number of actions to address EPA’s concerns, including developing extensive software changes to our emissions control strategies that could be implemented in these vehicles 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 and to resolve this matter expeditiously.