FCA US says that it has received a certificate of conformity from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a conditional executive order from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the production and sale of 2017 model year light-duty Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with 3-liter diesel engines.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed in May a civil complaint in federal court in Detroit, Michigan, against Fiat Chrysler alleging 104,000 light duty diesel vehicles with 3-liter liter EcoDiesel engines are equipped with software that defeat the emissions controls. The action was wide ranging against FCA US, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., V.M. Motori S.p.A., and V.M. North America, Inc.
The complaint alleged that undisclosed software functions caused the vehicles’ emission control systems to perform differently, and less effectively, during certain normal driving conditions than on federal emission tests, resulting in increased emissions of harmful air pollutants. In other words, Volkswagen2 – the American-Italian sequel.
The agencies’ approval was the product of several months of investigations between FCA US and the EPA and ARB over the agencies’ concerns with respect to the diesel emissions control technologies employed on earlier model year versions of these vehicles. The 2017 updates include modified emissions software calibrations, with no required hardware changes, and FCA claims that the modified calibrations will have no effect on the stated fuel economy or the performance of these vehicles.
FCA US claims it will discuss with the agencies and seek permission to use a version of the modified software to update the emissions control systems in the 2014-2016 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles that were the subject of the Notices of Violation issued by EPA and CARB in January 2017. FCA claims that the modified software can address the agencies’ concerns as to the emissions performance of those vehicles.
The Clean Air Act requires automakers to obtain a certificate of conformity before selling a vehicle by demonstrating to EPA that the vehicle will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. Manufacturers must disclose in their certification applications all auxiliary emission control devices – say computer software that affects the performance of emission controls based upon operating parameters of the vehicle – justify the use of any such devices. The paperwork must explain why those that reduce the effectiveness of emission controls are not “defeat devices.” Motor vehicles equipped with defeat devices cannot be certified, of course.