Fiat Chrysler agrees to USA diesel-emissions settlement worth $800M US

Roman Schwartz
January 11, 2019

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reportedly agreed to pay almost $800 million to settle Department of Justice charges focused on the company's diesel emissions software. The settlement includes fines to the government, California regulators, compensation to vehicle owners as well as settlements with other states. First, FCA will recall approximately 100,000 examples of the 2014-2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

The Justice Department said Fiat Chrysler must work with one or more vendors of aftermarket catalytic converters to improve the efficiency of 200,000 converters that will be sold in the 47 USA states that do not already require the use of the California-mandated high-efficiency gasoline vehicle catalysts.

While it may not have carried the cachet of Dieselgate, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was mired in its own diesel scandal, and a settlement has finally been reached in its court cases.

In 2016, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion penalty to settle government lawsuits.

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The Justice Department also opened a criminal investigation into Fiat Chrysler's conduct, and several state attorneys general also were investigating. The company has set aside more than $30 billion to cover costs and settlements, including $15 billion to buy back or fix vehicles in the U.S.

California Attorney Xavier Becerra said the automaker "tried to evade these standards by installing software to cheat emissions testing". VW was found to have colluded with Bosch to pass USA emissions only while its vehicles sensed they were being tested by federal agencies, while otherwise they operated in a completely different driving mode that polluted up to 40 times above the legal limit. Owners will receive an average of $2,800 to obtain software updates as part of the emissions recall, Fiat Chrysler said.

At issue is what CARB calls "auxiliary emission-control devices" (in other words, software code) that can allow excess pollution at specific times, such as during a cold start or for dumping fuel to clean the particulate filter, that must be disclosed. The software turned off the pollution control system under extreme circumstances such as climbing mountains in order to prevent engine damage, which is allowed under federal regulations, FCA said. Marchionne died past year.

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