Just days after Fiat rival Volkswagen pleaded guilty to criminal charges associated with rampant cheating involving vehicle emission tests, The United States government is now accusing car company Fiat Chrysler of deliberately failing to reveal software in a number of the company’s pickup trucks and SUVs with diesel engines that lets them emit more pollution than allowed by the “Clean Air Act“.
Notice of Violation
The Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) announced on Thursday that it had delivered a “notice of violation” to Fiat Chrysler that covers around 104,000 vehicles including models of the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee from 2014 to 2016 and also Ram Pickups. All sold with 3litre diesel engines.
While Fiat Chrysler hastily issued a statement denying any wrongdoing, The Environmental Protection Agency said that it will go on with its investigations to ascertain the “nature and impact” of all the eight software functions it identified during testing.
Regulators were not as yet vehemently defining the software as “defeat devices” which are in most cases intended to cheat government emissions tests. However, they said that multiple discussions with Fiat Chrysler during the last year did not produce any satisfying explanation as to why the company had not disclosed the software, which the regulators insist had caused the cars to give off less pollution during testing than during ordinary driving.
Liable for Penalties
Officials said that Fiat Chrysler could be liable for civil penalties if found guilty of violating the “Clean Air Act”. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is examining whether the emission control devices found in the above-mentioned cars are “defeat devices” which are outlawed because they switch off pollution controls.
Assistant Administrator for enforcement and compliance of the EPA Cynthia Giles said that this was a clear and serious infringement against the “Clean Air Act” and that when companies violate the law, Americans bank on the organization to come in and enforce.
Fiat Waits for the New President
Fiat Chrysler said that it was dissatisfied with the Agency’s actions and that it was looking forward to working with the Trump administration to have its case carefully looked at. The company said it spent months providing information to the Agency to expound on its emissions technology and even proposed a couple of actions like changes to the software to address the EPA’s concerns but to no avail. The company insisted that its emission control systems meet the suitable requirements.
Fiat Chrysler’s shares on the stock market fell more than 16 percent after the news was announced by the EPA on Thursday 12th January 2017.Whether Fiat Chrysler will be stamped with a similar $4.3 billion penalty like that given to Volkswagen remains to be seen, but what we can be sure of is that the folks over at the EPA have stepped up their game in a bid to make the air we breathe a lot cleaner.