On January 12, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued notices of violation to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and FCA US LLC for failing to disclose engine management software, leading to illegal diesel emissions in over 100,000 vehicles.
According to the EPA, the affected models include light-duty model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines.
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How Emissions-Cheating Software Works
According to EPA enforcement head Cynthia Giles, the software is designed to evade government testing by allowing the affected vehicles to meet pollution standards under testing conditions, while exceeding the standards during high speed or extended driving.
The EPA notice describes eight different undisclosed software programs, or “control devices,” in certain Fiat Chrysler’s diesel engine system. These control devices change the emissions of the vehicles under certain conditions.
‘Appalling’ Behavior Results in Harmful NOx Emissions
The Chrysler software significantly increases the vehicles’ emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which cause air pollution, exacerbated breathing conditions, and other harmful health effects.
NOx accounts for approximately 8% of the warming impact of current human greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
According to Safe Climate Campaign Director Dan Becker,
“Chrysler’s alleged misbehavior – rigging its trucks, VW-like, to increase pollution of our lungs and lying about it – is appalling.”
EPA Seeks ‘Viable Explanation’
“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 Director 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 stated that it will make a determination on whether to order a recall of the affected Fiat Chrysler vehicles as part of its ongoing investigation.
“Our meetings with Fiat Chrysler to date have not produced a viable explanation,” Giles noted.
Pattern of Automaker Emissions Violations
The Fiat Chrysler enforcement action follows a similar investigation into Volkswagen, which has agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle a defeat device scandal.
“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 the result of that collaboration.”