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U.S. sues FCA over Diesel Emissions

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The U.S. Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles claiming the automaker used software to evade emissions controls on diesel vehicles.

The lawsuit claims FCA used the software on 2014-2016 diesel vehicles and didn’t disclose it to regulators. The defeat devices cause the vehicles to emit “much higher” than allowable levels of nitrogen oxide pollution, according to the suit. Under the law, automakers must report any type of software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution.

The lawsuit is a culmination of accusations made by the EPA back in January. The automaker denied wrongdoing when confronted by the regulatory body earlier this year.

In a new statement today, FCA said it was “disappointed” that the Justice Department chose to file a lawsuit after it had been working with regulators to clear up the situation. “The Company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the Company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” FCA said.

Although it’s still unclear what civil penalties FCA could face, the EPA said back in January that the maximum fine is around $4.6 billion. The parties may end up reaching a settlement. Government regulators have been inspecting diesel vehicles more closely ever since VW’s emissions scandal came to light.

Last week, the automaker announced it had moved to certify 2017 diesel vehicles in the U.S. Addressing the government’s concerns, FCA said it will install new emissions control software on the diesels. Not only will the remedy apply to new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 models, but it will also be offered as a software update on 2014-2016 versions of the vehicles pending government approval. The new software will improve emissions without affecting efficiency or performance, the automaker claims.

Posted by Maye Rosales on 24th May 2017