Business

Former Suzuki Employee Pleads Guilty To VW-Like Regulation Violation

A former employee with Suzuki Motors pled guilty Friday to filing false reports and violating federal rules over excess emissions in tens of thousands of new-model motorcycles.

Court documents show that the employee violated provisions in the Clean Air Act and permitted excess emissions in more than 23,000 2012 model year motorcycles. The Suzuki case is another example of the Environmental Protection Agency’s years-long probe targeting the automotive industry.

The EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have both worked since 2015 to pursue a crackdown on automakers that cheat on pollution tests. Both agencies brought Volkswagen to heel over the German automaker’s emission scandal.

VW pled guilty in March to charges from “diesel gate,” which affected more than 500,000 vehicles and cost the automaker billions of dollars. VW was sentenced to three years’ probation, and was forced to pay billions of dollars in penalties.

The company admitted in 2015 to installing so-called “defeat devices” in hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. The Bosch devices would activate during road conditions when emission measuring tools were not engaged.

VW agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the U.S. to address the scandal, and it was also tasked with recalling and fixing the tainted vehicles. The company was sentenced to three years of probation and forced to pay billions of dollars in penalties. EPA officials championed their victory over the company last year.

The EPA pursued Fiat shortly thereafter. The DOJ filed a lawsuit against the Italian auto company and claimed that it used similar emission-cheating software as its German counterpart.

Fiat affixed “cheat devices” to 104,000 light duty diesel vehicles that were not disclosed to regulators during the certification application process, according to the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the EPA.

The lawsuit also alleges that the automaker equipped late-year Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500s with at least eight software-based features that curtail the vehicles’ emission control systems. The devices allowed the vehicle to push out higher levels oxides of nitrogen than the EPA permits.

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