Fiat Chrysler adjusts to legal action by mistake on diesel emissions



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Fiat Chrysler vehicles in a lot
Extend / A row of Dodge Ram trucks from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is on display at a vehicle dealership in Moline, Ill., On Saturday, July 1, 2017.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday a $ 305 million civil agreement between Fiat Chrysler and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a lawsuit over illegal software found on certain Dodge Ram diesel models and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel models.

The terms of the agreement also included an additional $ 19 million payment to the state of California, which regulates car emissions through the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

In addition, Fiat Chrysler is expected to update the software on all infringing vehicles and pay in a mitigation fund designed to improve the damage caused by excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The two programs together will cost the company an additional $ 185 million.

The DOJ said Fiat Chrysler will also have to pay a $ 6 million civil fine to US Customs and Border Protection to "settle allegations of illegal importation of 1,700 nonconforming vehicles."

The agreement comes two years after EPA accused Fiat Chrysler of installing illegal and undisclosed software on 104,000 vehicles including Dodge Ram 1500 diesel 3.0L and Jeep Grand Cherokees diesel between 2014 and 2016. The EPA claimed that the software would feel when the vehicle was being tested under laboratory conditions and implemented the complete emission control system so the car could pass the EPA emissions test. But when the vehicle was being driven under real-world conditions, the software would reduce the effectiveness of the emissions control system to make the car perform better.

Following the leader (Volkswagen Group)

If you are thinking that sounds a lot like the fraud that put the Volkswagen Group in hot water between 2015 and 2017, you are not too far away. EPA spokesman George Hull told Ars in an e-mail that the software of the VW Group and the software that the EPA identified in Fiat Chrysler cars are different. However, the software seems to be similar on purpose. An EPA information sheet notes that Fiat Chrysler vehicles included "at least eight software-based features" that "defeat or diminish the effectiveness of vehicle emission control systems during certain normal driving situations."

Hull told Ars that only five of these software-based features were found on all models. "One was only present on 2014 models, while two were only present on the 2015 model year and the 2016 model year," Hull wrote. "There have also been changes in software and year-to-year calibrations that have altered how some of the Emission Control Devices have been implemented in every model year."

We know that the VW Group software included at least 10 "checks" to determine whether the vehicle was in a laboratory or not. The car code would then reduce emission control features (such as fuel injection timing, how the exhaust gas is recirculated by the vehicle, and how much urea should be injected into the exhaust).

There are differences, however, in these two diesel scandals. EPA says that Fiat Chrysler sold only about 104,000 illegal vehicles compared to more than 600,000 cheating vehicles that the VW Group sold (including Volkswagens, Audis and 2.0L and 2.0L Porsches). Fiat Chrysler also appears to have proposed a software-based solution for all its vehicles in a timely manner. The VW Group scandal was notable because regulators were skeptical of many of the physical and software fixes the company proposed to keep its customers' vehicles on the road.

As part of the deal, Fiat Chrysler will have to ensure that at least 85% of its US fleet is upgraded to meet US emissions standards within two years of final agreement.

According Wall Street Journal"The company did not admit any environmental violations under the agreement and said there was no deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to deceive emissions testing."

The deal does not end all legal issues for Fiat Chrysler yet: criminal charges may still be brought against the company, and the ongoing proceedings of individual consumers will continue.

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