Older Jeep and Ram EcoDiesel Owners Won't See an Engine Fix Until at Least May
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles secured permission to sell 2017 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models in late July, but it could be nearly a year from that date before owners of 2014-2016 models can breathe easier.
In its bid to satisfy a very angry Environmental Protection Agency, FCA agreed to remove undeclared auxiliary emission control devices from its 2017 3.0-liter diesel vehicles and offer a fix for the 104,000 already on the road. Satisfied that nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels would stay within legal limits, the EPA gave the automaker the green light. With certification in hand, new EcoDiesels began appearing on dealer lots by the end of September.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Numerous Ram and Jeep EcoDiesel owners want FCA to pay up, and it’ll be many months before FCA fixes any of their vehicles.
According to Reuters, lawyers for FCA and EcoDiesel owners have now entered into settlement talks. Documents pertaining to a proposed settlement have already exchanged hands, stated court settlement master Ken Feinberg in a Tuesday court hearing held in San Francisco.
Ornery EcoDiesel owners aren’t the only party suing FCA. The U.S. Justice Department filed suit against the automaker in May, accusing FCA of illegally circumventing emissions laws. Supplier Robert Bosch, which helped develop the engine, is also the target of lawsuits.
Representatives from the Justice Department and Bosch were present at Tuesday’s hearing. In the hopes of reaching a settlement, Feinberg claims there’s two meetings planned for January — one between FCA and the feds, and another between the automaker, Bosch, and the owners.
“Everybody in good faith is certainly trying to figure out how we might achieve a comprehensive settlement,” Feinberg said. He feels a settlement could be reached as early as March.
As for the vehicles, owners will have to wait out the winter before receiving a fix. Justice Department lawyer Leigh Rende said FCA began testing the fix on December 17th. Ensuring that the repair can bring the older models into compliance is expected to take three months, which takes us to the middle of March. After that, the government has 30 days to review the test results. A determination is expected by the end of April.
If it’s a go, the automaker would then have to inform dealers of the work needed and mail out notices to owners.
Though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne called last January’s accusation of emissions cheating “hogwash,” the subsequent lawsuit from the Justice Department was worthy of fear. Under federal rules, FCA could be on the hook for $4.6 billion in fines if found guilty of Clean Air Act violations.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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