01.25.17 - FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne

Did Another Company Cheat on Emissions?

In Chrysler, Fiat by Nathan Ehinger

Let’s face the fact that until September of 2015 the EPA provided what amounted to an open book test when it came to emissions testing. Vehicles were tested under only specific conditions and when hooked up to particular machinery, which means any company that could create a device that would turn on all the emissions control systems during testing but turn them off once the testing was over could actually pass these tests and not have any worry about being caught. This seemed to be the thought if Volkswagen until their vehicles were tested and found to be failing on the road, which has now cost them nearly $20 billion.

In recent news, Volkswagen might not be the only company to have cheating devices in their vehicles. It appears FCA may be in the same boat in this regard because some of their vehicles which are powered by the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine have been found to exhibit higher than allowable emissions except under testing. This could be the same story all over again, but with another company when it comes to emissions and FCA. The finding of these emissions issues comes as a result of the changes implemented by the EPA after the VW scandal was discovered.

So far these emissions issues are related to the 2014-2016 models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram 1500 models that have this engine installed. This problem doesn’t’ affect the Ram heavy duty lineup and there hasn’t been any concrete charges filed yet, but FCA will have to work to make sure they are able to explain exactly what the devices in their vehicles are for considering these models all passed on the testing machinery but have added emissions when undergoing normal driving conditions on the road.

The problem with these vehicles is the fact that FCA didn’t disclose the presence of auxiliary emissions control devices to the EPA when it applied for the certificates of conformity. This was a disclosure that FCA knew was mandatory and should have been communicated to make sure the EPA was aware of all software and hardware present inside the vehicles before being tested. This failure to disclose the information is a violation of some of the most important provisions of the Clean Air Act and put FCA in violation of the Act as well as CARB and EPA guidelines.

So far we don’t know the exact amount of additional emissions that are being put into the atmosphere, but there are at least eight undisclosed pieces of software in these affected vehicles. These items are all capable of altering how the vehicle emits air pollution. Now it’s up to FCA to convince the EPA that these software items are not defeat devices and are not meant to alter the amount of NOx being emitted to the atmosphere. Right now you can still buy these vehicles from an FCA dealership because this is a Notice of Violation and not a full-fledged scandal, but you should continue to stay alert as to what may come from this news.