The EPA says FCA used an auxiliary emissions control device to cheat on tests.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it believes Fiat Chrysler used auxiliary emissions control software to circumvent emissions controls in its EcoDiesel-powered Dodge Ram 1500 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.As was the case with Volkswagen, the EPA is issuing the notice of violation in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board. The regulatory agencies claim that FCA included "undisclosed software" which "...results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx)."
"Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols in a joint statement. "CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration."
In response to the accusations, FCA released a statement claiming it is "disappointed" by the regulators' decision to move forward with the notice of violation.
"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," it went on.
Perhaps more significantly, it appears that FCA has every intention of appealing to President-Elect Donald Trump:
"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's no secret that the incoming administration is expected to take a weaker stance on emissions and fuel economy regulations. The EPA has already delayed the implementation of several penalties related to fuel economy in hopes that the incoming administration will not attempt to further hamstring the roll-out of future standards.
FCA has sold just over 100,000 combined units of the Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in the United States since the engine's introduction. According to Reuters, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation claims FCA believed the software was used legitimately.
This is not the first time FCA has faced heat from regulators for violating emissions laws. Fiat models in Europe were under investigation by German authorities last year for potential violations of EU emissions laws.
As in this instance, the vehicles in question were equipped with software that disabled emissions controls.
Volkswagen's diesel scandal resulted in a nearly $15-billion civil settlement and a $4.3-billion fine in the U.S. alone.