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.”