The U.S Environmental Protection Agency accuses Fiat Chrysler of violating emission standards in roughly 100,000 diesel vehicles. The story bears resemblance to the case of Volkswagen, which bothered the company for more than a year and cost it billions of dollars eventually.
The assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Cynthia Giles, said that it is an evident and serious violation of the Clean Air Act. She accused the automaker of thereby contributing to illegal pollution.
The EPA is in power to fine automakers for violating the Clean Air Act. The fine can be up to $44, 539 per vehicle in case of the worst violations. On Thursday the agency declared that such fines could be possible. This will happen if the software used for the vehicles will qualify as illegal “defeat devices” according to U.S. laws.
The EPA accuses Fiat Chrysler of selling vehicles supplied with software which violated the standards and was not revealed to them. Giles says, that in lab testing vehicles met the regulations. However, at high speed and in continued driving they surpassed the standards.
The cited vehicles are 2014, 2015 and 2016 model year Jeep Grande Cherokees SUVs and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks that have 3-liter diesel engines.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) and U.S. EPA committed to reinforced testing after the Volkswagen case. So, Fiat Chrysler’s case is also a result of CARB and U.S. EPA active collaboration. CARB Chair, Mary Nichols, said: “Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught.”
In the case of Volkswagen vehicles, the NOx emission rate was up to 4o times more than the U.S standard. However, Giles declined to give a comparable evaluation for Fiat Chrysler.
How did Fiat Chrysler respond to the allegations?
Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne denied the accusations and has been in communication with EPA since then, disclosing significant documentation.
The company’s U.S. arm, FCA US, in a statement, said the EPA allegations are disappointing. The statement insists that the company’s “diesel powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.”
In a statement, Fiat Chrysler mentioned that it had proposed EPA to carry on software improvements in order to further advance the emissions performance. The company says it hopes to “resolve this matter fairly and equitably.”
Since the FCA contests the charges, the case will develop under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. It is not clear how Trump’s EPA will address and handle this and similar cases.
“We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices,” said Giles. She added that all automobile companies should adhere to the same rules and will be held accountable if they gain unfair and illegal competitive superiority.
While EPA accuses Fiat Chrysler, the case may not be the only one. Under enhanced testing, the EPA said it is still inspecting diesel vehicles made by other companies. However, the agency declined to give any names.