By on June 15, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE, Image: FCA

Ram and Jeep fans looking to get into a new 1500 or Grand Cherokee with the highest possible fuel economy picked the wrong year to embark on their search. While owners of 2014-2016 Ram and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models wonder whether their vehicles are polluting as the EPA claims, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2017 EcoDiesels languish in legal limbo.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency held up the certification of 2017 models as it slogged through a backlog of extra-stringent testing prompted by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Then, in January, FCA’s hopes of getting 2017 EcoDiesels to dealers hit a brick wall. The automaker was accused of violating environmental regulations after the EPA discovered unannounced emissions control devices on the models — raising concerns of a possible VW-type defeat device scheme.

Then came a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. So, when can diesel fans get their hands on a light-duty FCA oil burner? It could be a while.

In a court hearing Wednesday, a DOJ lawyer claimed the process of examining FCA’s proposed emissions fix could take “weeks or months.” The automaker filed another application for certification in May, just a few days before the DOJ lawsuit. In it, FCA detailed changes to emissions software it said would bring the vehicles into compliance, anticipating no impact on fuel economy or performance.

Both the EPA and California Air Resources Board would need to test vehicles equipped with the updated emissions control system before greenlighting an emissions certificate. Once that occurs, the same fix would be offered to owners of some 104,000 older models.

According to Reuters (via Automotive News), FCA has held six meetings or phone calls with regulators in the past three weeks.

While the company waits for bill of health from the EPA (and hopes to avoid billions in fines), there’s more bad PR to worry about. West Virginia University, the institution that discovered Volkswagen’s emissions cheating, plans to release a study on the 3.0-liter diesel models’ real-world emissions. After reviewing the study, The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the models emit between eight to 25 times the legal amount of smog-producing emissions.

FCA quickly denied the claims, questioning the university’s testing procedure — and motivations.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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7 Comments on “When Will Fiat Chrysler Be Allowed to Sell 2017 EcoDiesel Jeeps and Rams? Possibly Not Until 2018 Models Roll Out...”

  • avatar
    Dan R

    You would think that with all the emissions equipment that car tailpipes would be bare metal yet they are mostly sooty. Many Fords are clean but many Hondas are sooty as anecdotal evidence. Most cars would seem to pass lab tests but fail on the open road. Aren’t these small turbocharged engines the worst offenders?

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I don’t get that, either. My last daily driver was a ’95 F-150 with a 5.0, and I drove it for 17 years and 214,000 miles. I replaced the one HO2S oxygen sensor once, only because of the number of miles (around 140k, IIRC), and not because of a failed test or check engine light. The tailpipe on it was always shiny silver inside, clean as a whistle, even on the day I traded it for my ’13 Tacoma (4.0 V6). The F-150 always passed its ASM (tailpipe test), but for a couple of years the HC level was near the limit (which made start to worry about an eventual failed test) – but it dropped back down after the two years when it was elevated.

      The Tacoma’s tailpipe? Black and sooty, as is the one on my wife’s ’08 Sienna.

      • 0 avatar

        Your 5.0 probably had the Speed density system instead of a mass air flow sensor. I had to replace the MAF on my old ’95 Altima because it was screwing up the auto transmission shifting, but it was also putting out black smoke, especially when cold. I’ve heard that Toyota MAFs can have problems that cause sooty exhaust if not maintained/cleaned, and it’s probably a part that never gets looked at until it stops working.

    • 0 avatar

      it’s direct injection. GDI engines can have poorer mixing of the fuel and air under certain operating conditions which leads to formation of particulate matter. Up until now, spark-ignition (gas) engines did not have defined limits to particulate emissions under Tier 2 regulations. Tier 3 implements them starting this year.

      reason being- with port injection, the fuel injector starts spraying fuel while the intake valve is still closed. the fuel hits the hot valve and evaporates. then when the valve opens, the turbulence of the air and fuel being pulled in to the cylinder thoroughly mixes them.

      with DI, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber. in certain cases when it’s injected after the intake valve is closed, there may not be enough turbulence inside the cylinder to thoroughly mix the fuel into the air charge.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    After WVU blew the whistle on VW, VW confessed almost immediately.

    In this case, I still don’t trust WVU’s claims because of the dispute about test methodology. FCA’s wouldn’t be so persistent with CARB and the EPA if they believed they were still out of compliance.

    For their parts, I blame VW for poisoning the diesel well with CARB and EPA. Now they mistrust everyone.

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC the standards are in g/mile, so to me that says brief “burps” of emissions are ok so long as they don’t exceed the g/mile limit.

      but apart from that, FCA still has the undisclosed AECDs in their code which makes them suspect as it is.

      • 0 avatar

        “FCA still has the undisclosed AECDs in their code which makes them suspect as it is.” and this is of course why they are scrutinizing it so carefully and why the EPA isn’t in a rush to approve the new submission that supposedly doesn’t have undisclosed AECDs in it.

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