The EPA accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of installing engine management software to several diesel-powered vehicles resulting in increased levels of nitrogen oxides.
EPA says the software, which Fiat (FCA) did not disclose to the EPA, was attached to roughly 104,000 vehicles, including 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines.
The agency is working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has also dinged the FCA for the alleged Clean Air Act violations. The agency and CARB are kick starting joint-investigations against the company.
“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,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a press statement announcing the news. “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.”
Auto companies are required to disclose and explain any software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution — FCA did not disclose the existence of the vehicles’ emission control devices despite being aware that such a disclosure was mandatory. FCA’s failure to notify the EPA and CARB about the device violated provisions of the Clean Air Act.
“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” CARB chair Mary D. Nichols said in a joint press statement with the EPA. “CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”
The news of Fiat’s transgression comes one day after the EPA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security wrapped up investigations into Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal.
U.S. prosecutors charged six high-level VW executives Wednesday with various criminal charges related to the automaker’s years-long emission cheating scheme.
VW executives and employees were charged in a 10-year conspiracy to dupe regulators on the environmental quality of VW’s diesel vehicles.
The company also agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement Wednesday, putting an end to the U.S. government’s investigations into the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating.
VW will pay a $1.5 billion civil fine and $2.8 billion criminal fine, according to court documents. The company would have stiffer penalties had it refused to spend more than $11 billion to fix or buyback the nearly 500,000 tainted vehicles.
EPA administrator Gina McCarthy championed the VW ruling.
“The American people demand a strong EPA” she said at a conference, which was also attended by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
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