Jeep and Ram EcoDiesels Are Plenty Dirty, West Virginia University Tests Show, But FCA's Having None of It

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
jeep and ram ecodiesels are plenty dirty west virginia university tests show but

The university that sparked the emissions wildfire under Volkswagen has turned its testing equipment on Fiat Chrysler’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel vehicles. The results aren’t pretty, especially for those with diminished lung capacity.

West Virginia University researchers who tested tailpipe emissions in real-world driving conditions claim the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels, singled out by the Environmental Protection Agency in January for excess pollution and unauthorized emission control devices, are indeed quite harmful to air quality. The university plans to detail its findings in a report to be published within weeks.

FCA, which proved unable to sidestep the EPA’s wrath or a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice, has spoken out against the university’s methods.

The Wall Street Journal, which received a copy of the study, reports that researchers tested 2014 and 2015 model year vehicles. The EcoDiesel was made available on 2014 to 2016 models. Due to the emissions flap, FCA has not been able to certify its 2017 EcoDiesel models for sale. The university chose to put five vehicles from two model years under the microscope because a previous emissions controversy forced FCA to recall 2014 models for select catalytic converter replacement.

What did the university discover? When tested in real-world conditions, the 2015 Rams reportedly emitted up to 25 times the allowable amount of smog-causing nitrogen oxide. The diesel 2015 Jeeps were eight times above the legal limit. As for the 2014 models, both the Jeep and Ram returned “significantly increased” emissions levels compared to tests performed in a lab.

The earlier recall “definitely didn’t fix the problem,” Dan Carder, director of West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions, told WSJ. He added, “when you see differences [between field and lab results], it’s suggesting there are control strategies that are making emissions controls perform differently in the test than in the field.”

If found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act, FCA could find itself on the hook for billions of dollars in penalties. The automaker has denied any wrongdoing, offering up a fix for the roughly 104,000 EcoDiesels already on the road and making software changes for the yet-to-be-certified 2017 model year. Its certification application landed on the EPA’s desk just days before the DOJ’s lawsuit.

FCA has also called the university’s findings into question. After trying in vain to discuss the findings with the researchers, the automaker issued a statement. The study “appears to have been commissioned by a plaintiffs’ law firm for the purposes of litigation,” FCA stated, referring to the lab’s funding by an outside firm headed by ex-Wall Street investment types.

FCA claims the university tested the vehicles in a far different manner than federal government lab procedures. The real-world tests saw the vehicles attain a speed 50 percent higher than in a simulated fashion in the lab. Payload was also 600 to 700 pounds greater.

The university claims it stands behind its findings and the method used to gather the information.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Pricha33 Pricha33 on Jun 14, 2017

    An institution that is pushing for alternative fuels finds an issue with diesel fuelled vehicles , what a joke. If the vehicles pass the EPA test without any software that only operates only during said testing, those vehicles meet the mandated standard. Tell the ambulance chasers to go pound salt !!!

  • JustPassinThru JustPassinThru on Jun 15, 2017

    Maybe, just maybe, it is the test that is flawed - not the software. The test requires that vehicles PASS THE LAB TEST. Those that are cleaner in real-world use but do not conform to the TEST, are failed. The obvious conclusion here is that the test is flawed. The second obvious conclusion here is that the university is anything but dispassionate - they are waging a jihad on petroleum-powered automobiles.

    • See 1 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jun 18, 2017

      @HotPotato: Can I assume you have access to the WVA test report? Because up to now I've not heard of any official release of the report and you're announcing a number of details that are not public knowledge. Secondly, if FCA is attempting to work with the EPA and not just blatantly saying, "we didn't do it," the suggestion is there that someone dropped the ball in reporting those subroutines rather than any intentional attempt to hide them. We simply don't have enough data to make a comprehensive conclusion at the moment and doing so now, without that data, may be a mistake. To the best of my knowledge, and I admit it's a bit sketchy on details, VW's issue was intentional pretty much top to bottom and may even have been a bit of a conspiracy since Bosch itself is now coming into play as a software/electronics supplier to VW. This association may account for some of FCA's issues since supposedly Bosch supplies components and software to the Italian company as well as to multiple German and possibly global customers. It also seems strange to me how diesels, which were always known for great torque but relatively low horsepower, suddenly became almost as good in acceleration and high-horsepower operations as gasoline engines despite diesel being a slower-burning fuel. I'll grant turbocharging was a big part of that boost but that doesn't mean the fuel itself is any cleaner burning than it was.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.