Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Accuses Fiat Chrysler of Violating the Clean Air Act
Company allegedly installed software into vehicles that increases air pollution and did not disclose it
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified Fiat Chrysler that it violated the Clean Air Act by installing engine management software in certain vehicles and failing to disclose that it had done so.
The company is accused of installing this software—which increases the amount of air pollution produced by a vehicle—in light-duty model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-liter diesel engines that were sold in the United States. About 104,000 vehicles are involved in these allegations.
Both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are investigating these claims.
"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 Administrator 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."
"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 a result of that collaboration."
Under the Clean Air Act, automakers have to carry out a certification process to show the EPA that their products meet applicable federal emission standards for controlling air pollution. As part of this process, manufacturers must disclose and explain any software—known as auxiliary emission control devices—that can change the ways in which a vehicle pollutes the air.
Fiat Chrysler broke this law by not disclosing the existence of this type of software in model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks and then selling these vehicles even though the company knew that it was required to do so.
As a result, Fiat Chrysler may be liable for paying civil penalties as well as compensation ordered by a court for these violations. The EPA is also working to determine whether or not the software in question are "defeat devices," which are illegal.
The agency started an expanded testing program in September 2015 to screen light-duty vehicles for such devices. This revealed that the Fiat Chrysler vehicles in question produce more emissions of the pollutants nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide under conditions of normal operation and use. The EPA has found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can change the ways in which a vehicle pollutes the air.