We’ve spent the last few years following the saga of Volkswagen and its diesel emission problems. In case you missed it – the company rigged its computers to turn off during government testing of its emissions systems, resulting in diesels passing tests that were, in reality, spewing emissions upwards of 40X the legal limit as outlined by the Clean Air Act.
Well, you may have heard rumblings of a similar scenario happening at Fiat Chrysler, which came to a head when the Department of Justice filed a civil suit against the company in late May, accusing them of illegally using computer software to bypass emissions tests in nearly 104,000 of the company's diesel cars.
New details are emerging, with automotive news outlet Jalopnik now reporting that the EPA discovered problems with Fiat Chrysler as far back as 2015. Based on emails they obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, Jalopnik says Fiat Chrysler was alerted to discrepancies in November of ’15, a mere two months after the VW scandal broke and the EPA subsequently expanded its testing program.
It appears Fiat and the EPA maintained regular contact since, as the company scrambled to test its vehicles and determine why it wasn’t passing the NOx tests. Eventually, when the lawsuit was finally filed, it cited issues with undisclosed software features that allegedly reduced emissions controls effectiveness, even under certain “normal driving” conditions.
The output is said to be between 3 and 20 times the legal limit on the 104,000 vehicles that are implicated in the Fiat Chrysler complaint – which is substantially lower than the VW scenario, and far fewer vehicles. At one point, Volkswagen there were 11 million cars globally that were impacted. Secondly, Fiat Chrysler is adamant that it never engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests and that it will defend itself vigorously.
Be that as it may, the Washington Post says the financial impact to Fiat Chrysler, if the complaint resolves in the EPA’s favor, could be up to $4.6 billion.
This is IEN Now with Anna Wells.