Justice Department Launches Criminal Investigation Into Fiat Chrysler's Diesel Devices

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
justice department launches criminal investigation into fiat chrysler s diesel

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles started off the week in solid form. It deftly preempted the Detroit auto show by unveiling its futuristic Portal minivan concept at the youthful Consumer Electronics Show a week prior, then dangled a big Mopar tease in front of enthusiasts with its yet-to-be-revealed SRT Hellcat Demon variants of the Dodge Charger and Challenger.

Then, just like that, the Environmental Protection Agency held a media conference and FCA found its legs kicked out from under it. After Thursday’s accusation of emissions violations (via eight undeclared emissions control devices found on 3.0-liter EcoDiesel models), the automaker finds itself playing defense as controversy grows.

As the EPA’s investigation continues, the U.S. Department of Justice has now opened a criminal probe.

According to Bloomberg, the Justice Department wants to know why FCA didn’t tell the EPA about the devices during the certification process. The regulator claims the engines, found in 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles, emit illegal amounts of nitrogen oxide, and appear to operate in a leaner way only when undergoing emissions testing. If found in violation of the Clean Air Act, FCA could be on the hook for $4.6 billion in fines.

Forget checkered flags — this week was all about the red variety at FCA. Unfortunately for the automaker, it all comes during a week where six indictments fell on the heads of Volkswagen executives involved in that company’s diesel scandal.

The Bloomberg report claims FCA used emissions technology sourced from Robert Bosch GmbH — a supplier that provided software to Volkswagen for use on its illegal diesels. Bosch is under investigation for its role in that case.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was quick out of the gate to deny the accusations, calling them “unadulterated hogwash,” but it didn’t stop the company’s stock — which was steadily on the rise — from taking a sharp dip. The company’s stock sat at $11.09 a share before the EPA revelation, but closed trading at $9.73 yesterday.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 16, 2017

    Why doesn't the EPA test these turbo gas engines under normal use? I think you'll they are spewing more particlates, noxious gases and CO2 than any EPA test standard. I'd like to see two vehicles of similar capability, say a 5.7 Hemi and VM diesel Ram put under the same loads/conditions driven together say around a major urban centre, some highway driving traversing a few hills and mountains monitored with readings and times giving info on how much real life difference there is between the 2 comparable vehicles. Don't use new vehicles, use vehicle with 20k on them as the should be oprrating near their optimum by then. Can TTAC organise this?

    • SSJeep SSJeep on Jan 17, 2017

      BAFO - they have done particulate and CO2 emissions on most engines in the US. The HEMI did not exceed any emission parameters in city or highway driving... The diesel oversights are due to NOx, which had not been part of the original testing setup for DEF equipped vehicles...

  • 05lgt 05lgt on Jan 16, 2017

    Bosch will not emerge unscathed. VW throwing itself on the sword may have bought them some time, but ... you can't sell dirty bombs to terrorists and claim you didn't know what they would do with them. Well, you can, it just doesn't keep you out of FITB prison with a cell mate who's daughter died from asthma related causes.

    • See 1 previous
    • OldManPants OldManPants on Jan 17, 2017

      @Lorenzo What a marvelous human nature parable. No good intention goes unabused.

  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)
  • Tassos And all 3 of them were ordered by Fisker's mother.Seriously, after Fisker's DISMAL record of UTTER FAILURE in the past, only a GOD DAMNED MORON would order this one.
  • RHD Any truth to the unconfirmed rumor that the new, larger model will be called the bZ6X? We could surmise that with a generous back seat it certainly should be!
  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/