Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Diesel Vehicle Violation Information
On January 10, 2019, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), together with the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, announced a joint settlement valued at more than $500 million with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and related companies (Fiat Chrysler). The settlement resolves allegations that the company violated environmental and consumer protection laws by using “defeat device software” to circumvent emissions testing. California will receive $78.4 million as part of the settlement. Fiat Chrysler is accused of installing the defeat device software in 100,000 vehicles nationwide and 13,325 vehicles in California. The affected vehicles are 2014-2016 diesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500s.
- FCA installed a number of what are called auxiliary emission control devices (AECDs) in its model year 2014-2016 3.0 liter diesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickup trucks.
- AECDs alter how a vehicle's emissions control equipment functions, and are allowed under very limited circumstances. However, the presence of these devices in a vehicle must be disclosed to CARB when a vehicle model is certified.
- FCA did not make known the presence of AECDs in the affected vehicles, and the devices do not function when the vehicle is being tested for certification.
- FCA's actions have created substantial excess, illegal, and on-going emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and harm that have impacted, and continue to impact, public health and the environment in California.
- Both CARB and U.S. EPA have issued Notices of Violation (NOV) to the company as a result of the discovery of AECDs.
What is a Notice of Violation (NOV)
An NOV is the beginning of the Enforcement Process against an automaker.
The NOV notifies an automaker that their vehicles have been determined to be in violation of California?s Health & Safety Codes. In this case the violations involve the importation and sale of vehicles which do not comply with the requirements of their certification and are in violation of state vehicle emissions standards because of the presence of undisclosed AECDs.
When is an auxiliary emission control device allowed?
An AECD can be allowed under very limited circumstances, generally when a vehicle faces driving conditions so extreme they could damage the engine. Examples might include situations where a fully loaded pickup will be climbing very steep hills, or a vehicle is operating in conditions of extreme heat or cold.
CARB and U.S. EPA must be notified of the presence of an AECD before certification, and the device is not permitted to operate under regular driving conditions.
How were these devices discovered?
Following the discovery of an "defeat device"* in several Volkswagen models in 2015, CARB and U.S. EPA sent a letter to all manufacturers of diesel passenger vehicles sold in the United States. The letter informed the automakers that both agencies would test all those vehicles in response to the Volkswagen discovery. That testing involves an expanded set of test cycles developed for the Volkswagen case, and that testing found the FCA devices.
* A defeat device is an undisclosed AECD which shuts down all or part of a vehicle emissions control system during regular, on-road driving.
What's the harm?
Vehicles are certified to specific environmental standards for air pollutants. NOx is an important contributor to development of ozone, and ozone is a serious public health and environmental problem, especially in California. NOx emissions contribute to the formation of ozone, and can worsen symptoms of asthma and cardio-pulmonary disease. About 10 million Californians live in what U.S. EPA considers severe non-attainment areas for ozone, which violate the federal Clean Air Act. Those 10 million Californians represent 100 percent of the Americans living under such conditions.
What will CARB do now?
Through the enforcement process, CARB will seek to ensure that FCA brings the vehicles into full compliance with State emissions standards and mitigates past, current, and future harm to the environment. CARB will assess penalties and require other remedies allowed by law. Any modifications necessary to bring the vehicles into compliance will be handled through this enforcement action.
Which models are affected?
The CARB investigation currently involves about 14,000, 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickup trucks. The investigation is continuing. There are about 104,000 of these vehicles nationwide.
Can I still register or sell one of these vehicles?
Yes. There has been no remedy determined so far, and until that happens owners and lessees should follow the usual registration procedures and deadlines. The vehicles can also be resold, at this point.
CARB Notice of Violation Cover Letter
California’s Complaint and Proposed Consent Decrees - Fiat Chrysler
Attorney General Becerra, CARB announce joint California-Federal settlement valued at more than $500 million with Fiat Chrysler for use of “defeat devices”