Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has violated the US Clean Air Act, with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging the automaker has installed software designed to dupe emissions tests.
The EPA says that Chrysler included auxiliary devices 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 US, which equates to roughly 104,000 vehicles.
While these figures are not as high as Volkswagens', which was forced to recall half a million vehicles worldwide after defeat devices were discovered in "clean diesel" vehicle models including Jettas, Passats, Golfs, and Beetles, Chrysler may be in severe trouble with the US agency for following in Volkswagen's footsteps.
The US Clean Air Act requires automakers to meet a certain standard in how much pollution their vehicles produce. Not only do vendors have to meet specific limits on nitrous oxide levels, but they must disclose any software which alters how vehicles emit air pollution.
Volkswagen failed to do so. The automaker's defeat devices ensured that during test scenarios vehicles would produce levels of pollution acceptable under US legislation, but while on the road, these levels were far higher.
It is unclear just how far Chrysler has traveled down the same path by not disclosing its own software and whether the automaker's software can also be considered a "defeat device" in the same way.
According to a statement by the EPA, the use of the undisclosed software has resulted in an investigation which has been launched by both the EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB).
"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."
In a statement, Chrysler said it was "disappointed" that a public notice was issued, but intends to work with US regulators to resolve the matter quickly. The company said:
"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."
In recent news, Volkswagen accepted a $4.3 billion fine for the emissions scandal. Six former executives are being charged over their alleged roles in the near decade-long scheme to cheat emissions testing.
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