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Italy faces potential EU showdown over Fiat emissions tests

by Justin King
Italy faces potential EU showdown over Fiat emissions tests

The European Commission has demanded that Italian officials explain the technical necessity of Fiat's alleged emissions 'defeat device.'

The European Commission has stepped up its showdown with Italian authorities over alleged emissions test discrepancies involving Fiat vehicles.

German officials last year accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of selling cars with illegal emissions systems. The concerns were outlined in a petition to the European Commission and Italy's Transport Ministry, however the latter agency dismissed the findings and claimed the Fiat vehicles are in compliance with regulations.

The Commission has now demanded a better explanation from Italy's regulators to justify Fiat's emissions control systems, referring to certain software provisions as 'defeat devices' akin to Volkswagen's diesel emissions cheat.

"The Commission is now formally asking Italy to respond to its concerns that the manufacturer has not sufficiently justified the technical necessity - and thus the legality - of the defeat device used," the Commission said in a statement published by Reuters.

Italy must provide a response within two months that satisfies the European Commission's concerns, otherwise the country faces additional legal proceedings. Italian officials have requested more time before the dispute escalates toward enforcement action.

The EU currently allows each member nation to perform emissions validation testing for their domestic automakers. Critics suggest the system creates conflicts of interest.

Proposed changes to EU regulations would increase enforcement penalties for countries that are found guilty of violating testing regulations.