Dieselgate2? EPA Says Jeep, Ram Diesels Use Illegal Software

AutoInformed.com

An impressive sales history of Ram pickups and Jeeps could be a huge liability.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has sent a notice of violation to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and FCA US LLC for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act for installing and failing to disclose engine management software in light-duty 2014, 2015 and 2016 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3-liter diesel engines – Dieselgate2, the Volkswagen sequal. EPA says the software results in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), but stopped short of saying that the vehicles do not comply with the law. The allegations cover more than 104,000 vehicles. EPA says it has found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution. In short, this could be Dieselgate2.

In what looks to be an early pre-match warmup to the ongoing Volkswagen Dieselgate v U.S. regulators disaster, EPA is working in coordination with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has also issued a notice of violation to FCA. EPA and CARB have both started investigations based on FCA’s alleged Dieselgate2 actions. FCA could be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief. EPA is also investigating whether the auxiliary emission control devices constitute “defeat devices,” which are illegal.

“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.”

FCA US says it believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.

“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.”

EPA said “The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to demonstrate to EPA through a certification process that their products meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. As part of the certification process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any software, known as auxiliary emission control devices, that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution. FCA did not disclose the existence of certain auxiliary emission control devices to EPA in its applications for certificates of conformity for model year 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks, despite being aware that such a disclosure was mandatory. By failing to disclose this software and then selling vehicles that contained it, FCA violated important provisions of the Clean Air Act.”

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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1 Response to Dieselgate2? EPA Says Jeep, Ram Diesels Use Illegal Software

  1. California Air Resources Board says:

    CARB on FCA Dieselgate2:

    What did Fiat-Chrysler do?
    The company (FCA) installed a number of what are called auxiliary emission control devices (AECDs) in its model year 2014-2016 3-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 because of the discovery of AECDs.

    What is a Notice of Violation?
    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 undisclosed “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.

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