US EPA and California Allege Undisclosed Diesel Emissions Controls On Fiat-Chrysler Jeep and Ram Trucks

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board issued notices of violation to Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles for alleged software that increases air pollution on certain Jeep and Ram diesel vehicles.

The EPA and CARB accused the manufacturer of not disclosing emission control software that it is legally required to, saying the software adversely affects NOx emissions similarly to how Volkswagen Group has admitted to doing.

In question are 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines sold in the U.S., or an estimated 104,000 vehicles.

The term “cheat” or “cheating” was avoided in a statement by the EPA, which otherwise implies as much.

“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,” said the EPA.

This led FCA to respond it is “disappointed.” The automaker said it denies it is using “defeat devices,” or out of compliance with the rules, and said it will appeal to EPA under the Trump administration which is replacing the EPA’s leadership with those more in line with the new president’s sensibility.

Meanwhile, the present EPA leadership is pressing the case alongside California.

The EPA’s accusation of violating the Clean Air Act follows months of scrutiny, and reluctance by the EPA to certify FCA’s 2017 diesel vehicles.

Under the Clean Air Act, manufacturers must pass a certification process to prove they meet federal emission standards.

This compliance process requires disclosure of any “auxiliary emission control devices” that stand to affect performance is required, and FCA did not do this, said the EPA.

“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.

California Air Resources Board Chair Chair Mary D. Nichols similarly chastised FCA.

“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said 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.”

FCA ‘Disappointed’

In response to the EPA, FCA said it has for months been working behind the scenes to show it is in compliance with the rules and is “disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation.”

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

“FCA US diesel engines are equipped with state-of-the-art emission control systems hardware, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR),” said the automaker. “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 said it has thus far provided “voluminous information in response to requests from EPA and other governmental authorities and has sought to explain its emissions control technology to EPA representatives.”

And, it said, it will continue to work with the EPA, and appeal to the Trump administration for fair treatment.

“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,” said the automaker.

“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,” it said.


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