By on March 1, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The fallout from the Environmental Protection Agency’s call-out of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over excess EcoDiesel emissions has now landed in the company’s lap. Or, more specifically, in its mailbox.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, FCA revealed it’s been hit with subpoenas from state and federal authorities, including the SEC, Reuters reports.

The need for answers comes after the EPA accused the automaker of failing to declare eight auxiliary emissions control devices installed on its 3.0-liter diesel V6, which the regulator claims emits illegally high levels of emissions. That engine found a home in roughly 104,000 Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees.

FCA’s annual filing states the automaker has “received various inquiries, subpoenas and requests for information from a number of governmental authorities, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC and several states’ attorneys general.”

“We are investigating these matters and we intend to cooperate with all valid governmental requests,” the company added.

On January 12, Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of the EPA, said that failing to declare the emissions control devices constituted a violation of the Clean Air Act. Giles demanded that FCA “demonstrate why we shouldn’t conclude that these (devices) are defeat devices” — a reference to Volkswagen’s infamous emissions-cheating software.

While the proliferation of FCA’s two 3.0-liter diesel models pales next to VW’s oil burners, the EPA’s penalty would still be steep. FCA would have to pay a $4.6 billion fine if found guilty of violating the Act. That could prove disastrous for an automaker already low on cash.

Resolving this controversy “could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows and may adversely affect our reputation with consumers, which may negatively impact demand for our vehicles,” FCA wrote in its filing.

Apparently, the groundwork for the EPA’s bombshell accusation — and subsequent Justice Department investigation — had been in the works for some time. Sources told Reuters that the Justice Department received a referral from the EPA last July.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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32 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Hit with Subpoenas as Feds, States Demand EcoDiesel Answers...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    The devil is really going to be in the details on this one. so far there’s no “smoking gun” evidence that the vehicles are non-compliant like ICCT found for VW. Right now the .gov is saying:

    – You didn’t tell us about these AECDs, which is a violation in itself
    – Since they’re present and weren’t disclosed, we’re assuming they’re defeat devices
    – and if these AECDs are indeed defeat devices which you did use to cheat the test, y’all in a heap of trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on all points.

      As for the Ecodiesel itself, a friend had 12 months of hassle, breakdowns, and recalls with his, and finally traded it away. I’m sure he’s happy not to have the truck any longer with this question hanging over it.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      I agree. The troubling part is, what’s taking FCA so long to come up with a response to the allegations? I think it’s been a month since any news has come from FCA on this.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I was wondering the same thing. Perhaps the answer is that FCA was simultaneously preparing its annual filing, which needs to contain cautionary language about this question.

        Hopefully real answers start to flow soon.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “The EPA is a biased publication and if they surveyed real owners and were not biased, they’d realize there were no problems.”

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Uh-oh.

    Dieselgate Part Deux? (or is it now Part Trois, Part Quatre, Part Cinq, or even Part Six or Sept?!!!)

    Clean Diesel!!!

    And Clean Coal, TOO!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it’s all going to come down to whether the trucks do indeed exceed the limits on the road. if so, and it’s shown that those AECDs activate on the road and cause emissions to rise, they’re up the proverbial estuary lacking a means of locomotion.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        How difficult would it be to impose a real world testing regime?

        A device collects tailpipe emissions and analyzes it while the driver works their way through stop and go traffic, interstate, state highways… etc. I think that would definitely change the engine choices after a few years of doing that sort of testing.

        • 0 avatar
          BigOldChryslers

          The test conditions need to be repeatable. Real-world driving conditions are not repeatable at different times and locations.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            this. a test has to be independently repeatable/verifiable in order to be scientifically valid. Which, unfortunately, means it can be gamed.

            now, the EPA (under any other president than Moldering Cheez-It) could make the case that from VW on, before they’ll certify a vehicle they need to be provided with one or more vehicles with which they’ll measure on-road.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            @JimZ

            I live in Raleigh, NC, with a fair-sized EPA facility down the road. They do perform at least some real-world testing; saw a Kia CUV a few months back going down the road with all sorts of emissions-related stuff strapped to it. (My big clue: the hoses going from the tailpipe into the passenger compartment through a window; It was either an EPA test, or somebody publicly committing suicide.) I expect they just use employee vehicles…

            At least some real-world testing is done, it’s just hard to make it PART of a standard. But I expect that information from the tests are used when figuring out what tweaks to make to the standard.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I think the thing is, a *monitoring* evaluation doesn’t need to be (and you can make the case that it *shouldn’t be*) a repeatable scientific test. It should be “We take the vehicle, fit it with a portable gas analyzer, and go driving for a while. We won’t tell you where, how, or for how long we’re going to drive it. if we see anything funny you’ll have some ‘splaining to do.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “estuary”

        I see you were avoiding the word swamp.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    I love that EPA says FCA should bear the burden of proving that “these were not defeat devices”. SHouldn’t it be EPA burden to prove the wrongdoing.

    The Federal Government has accused you; you are presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent. Also, even though you are a big corporation, we have unlimited manpower, time, and resources to keep accusing you until we get the outcome we want. We also do not have to bear market forces and answer to no consumer.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I love that EPA says FCA should bear the burden of proving that “these were not defeat devices”. SHouldn’t it be EPA burden to prove the wrongdoing.”

      Well, view it from the angle that the EPA is giving FCA a chance to “come clean” here. show them that they’re not used as defeat devices, then the penalty is a relative slap on the wrist. admit that they are defeat devices, and a moderately stiffer penalty while FCA works on a remedy. Obfuscate or lie? We’ve got a big hammer here, and the blood of Wolfsburg on it isn’t even dry yet.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      EPA: Now, my job dictates that I must have my men dissect your vehicle and conduct a thorough search before I can officially cross your corporation’s name off my list, and if there are any irregularities to be found, rest assured they will be. That is unless you have something to tell me that makes the conducting of a search unnecessary. I might add, also, that any information that makes the performance of my duties easier will not be met with punishment. Actually, quite the contrary, it will be met with reward. And that reward will be your corporation will cease to be harassed in any way by the EPA during the rest of our occupation of your country. [stares hard at FCA] You are sheltering enemies of the environment, are you not?

      FCA: [softly] Yes.

      EPA: You’re sheltering them in your electronics, aren’t you?

      FCA: [tears forming in his eyes] Yes.

      EPA: Point out to me the modules where they are hiding . . .

    • 0 avatar
      OzCop

      Caboose hit on a valid point…since when does the accused bear the burden of proving themselves innocent. It is up to government to prove them guilty, and they have an opportunity to prove themselves innocent. The EPA has been threatening and making demands on big business for decades, and it seems the deeper the pockets, the deeper the demands. I have several friends with those trucks, and one has 80 plus thousand miles on his without the slightest hiccup, and others are a bit newer but have between 40 and 50K miles without issue. One of them did have an engine replaced at 70K due to DEF Fluid issues. The EPA demands Billions of dollars from companies, regardless of the effect it has on the company or the employees of said companies, further affecting our economy in the name of an out of control government entity that sees little in the way of government regulation on the organization itself…Screw’em…

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    And every year we wonder out loud why Mazda has taken so long to bring its diesel her to the US…well it would seem we know why now. It appears that alot of folks cheat to get the performance they want.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Chocolatedeath
      Mazda would not want to try and sell in a hostile anti diesel
      Environment

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Well, there was that pesky problem where the fuel diluted the oil.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @SCE to AUX
        NA problem. Have never heard of it

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/user-article/114518/mazda-diesels-have

          One comment there: “At 3K miles i have only a tiny oil rise say 1mm, but i don’t do much more than 7K a year anyway. But you must check the oil level weekly to avoid being caught out with oil dilution, which in turn can lead to low oil pressure.”

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            DPF regeneration has probably been the biggest ball-ache on modern diesels. I know some of the new garbage trucks in a nearby city have had multiple occasions of check engine lights due to DPF re-gen failure. Then there was the flames shooting from the tailpipe of the 2008 Super Duty. oil growth has been a problem for more than one manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      well, to be fair FCA hasn’t been shown to have “cheated” yet, but it’s not looking good right now.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    How much pain this causes FCA depends on how/if they came “clean” when confronted. (Or at least started good-faith negotiations.) Companies that cooperate with investigations don’t have to pay nearly as much money.

    VW pretended there was nothing suspicious going on at all for a whole year before ‘fessing up. (And even then, hasn’t exactly been a model of cooperation.)

    It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    FCA will pay nothing. T-Rump will trade off a penalty for some manufacturing jobs here in the USA. After all, if clean water now requires and economic study and economics are given greater importance than clean water, then the same will apply to job creation. After all, everybody knows that these regulations are just job killers…<>

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nice snark, I challenge you to back it up with facts (real facts or even the alternative variety).

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Until the EPA makes a decision, it is only my opinion that Trump will have no problem letting FCA off the hook for some kind of political gain. Why do I say this? He has shown absolutely no concern about protecting our environment; his actions (ex orders) and his choice to run the very agency that is tasked to protect us from industry’s waste speak very clearly. So the snark is mine – and I’m sure we will find out in the not too distant future. I would gladly eat my words if he proves me wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        I only have one “alternative fact” and it’s for Kellyanne. “No, that’s my thumb.”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yeah, VW Group was able to afford the $18 billion—or whatever the number was; I don’t think FCA could swing $5 billion at a time when they’re already delaying R&D expenditures on their most-popular models.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Given the problems that major manufacturers VW and FCA, are having, and probably more to come, with their Diesel engines not meeting emission standards, perhaps the standards are set too high and are not realistic.
    Maybe we should look more closely at them instead of blaming the car companies for not meeting the unachievable.


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