By on February 5, 2018

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles might need the 2019 Ram 1500’s newly increased payload capability when it comes time to visit the bank.

As we’ve told you since the scandal broke a year ago, FCA could find itself on the hook for hefty penalties after the Environmental Protection Agency slammed it for failing to declare a bevy of auxiliary emission control devices on its 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine. With the 2017 and 2018 Ram and Jeep EcoDiesel models now in compliance, the question becomes: what does FCA pay to settle the fallout?

According to documents obtained by Bloomberg, it seems the monetary fine sought by the U.S. Justice Department might not fit in the pickup bed.

A copy of the settlement offer recently sent to FCA doesn’t list a dollar figure, but it does mention the need for “very substantial civil penalties” to deter future Clean Air Act violations.

Over 100,000 2014-2016 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee models fitted with the company’s EcoDiesel engine fell into the hands of American customers before the EPA discovered the undeclared devices. The agency withheld certification of 2017 models until last July, when the automaker revealed a “fixed” engine and a plan to bring older models into compliance. Previously sold models will see a fix no earlier than May.

DOJ lawyers write that any settlement must “adequately reflect the seriousness of the conduct that led to these violations.” The civil penalties won’t bring an end to the department’s criminal investigation, however. Under existing law, FCA could face fines totalling up to $4.6 billion, though the actual penalty will likely be far less. As well, it seems certain — based on earlier correspondence — that FCA will pony up for environmental mitigation efforts designed to make up for the excess pollution emitted since 2014.

These measures could include low- or zero-emission “mobility” projects, which immediately brings to mind Chrysler’s Pacifica Hybrid and its current involvement with a self-driving technology company (and its green ride-hailing vision).

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, wouldn’t comment on the settlement, but did note that FCA is using the same team of lawyers used by Volkswagen in crafting its historic U.S. emissions settlement. Unfixed EcoDiesel owners shouldn’t expect a VW-style buyout, but a recall might be unavoidable.

News of the looming settlement saw FCA’s stock fall on both sides of the Atlantic.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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22 Comments on “Feds Ready to Hit Fiat Chrysler With Big Fines: Report...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    The silver lining is that by all accounts and appearances the violations were not malicious or conspiratorial. FCA just didn’t carry out due diligence with regard to understanding the regulations and properly disclosing their emissions-related devices. Which explains why the EPA seems to be ready to spit hot fire in public but perhaps go (relatively) easy on the fines.

    Which begs the question…would you rather have intelligent deception or incompetent compliance?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      VW carried out there scheme for close to a decade. That is willful disobedience of the law.

      I think FCA out kicked their coverage is all.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No it was intentional by all accounts. If it was purely because they failed to disclose programing that was legal they wouldn’t be requiring them to recall and fix the 2014-2016 models.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Exactly!

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It wasn’t just the programming but extra, undisclosed sensors that fed the programming. The recall is to remove the sensors and reprogram the ECU to work without their input. The EPA never found that the extra sensors hid extra pollution, as the Volkswagen programming did.

        FCA has insisted the extra sensors and programming were to prevent possible damage to the engine, and hasn’t “confessed” to any intent to rig the engines. The EPA has not charged that the system FCA employed caused additional pollution, only that the undeclared sensors and programming were not properly documented and revealed to EPA.

        Any fines or penalties will be for failing to declare the additonal equipment, not for gross pollution. Assuming the involvement of undeclared and unapproved pollution control devices means more pollution was produced is far off the mark.

        • 0 avatar
          No Nickname Required

          But there’s this:

          “As well, it seems certain — based on
          earlier correspondence — that FCA will
          pony up for environmental mitigation
          efforts designed to make up for the
          excess pollution emitted since 2014.”

          So it seems that there was excess pollution taking place, unless this statement is not true. Regardless, if I owned an Ecodiesel I’m not sure that I would take it in to have the recall done.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          Why have the sensors removed? Does their existence do any harm?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Uh-oh… On the bright side, at least it shouldn’t cost them $30 billion.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Heh, heh, heh….. yeah, who didn’t see that one coming?

      VW got caught for cheating but if the Feds choose to, they can probably bag more OEMs offering dirty diesels.

      Tiny diesels have always been a farce. Better FE in passenger vehicles does not make up for everything else that is wrong with tiny diesels.

      The greenweenies should be outraged at these revelations! Instead they make excuses for why tiny diesels are good for the environment.

      Phony baloney!

  • avatar
    thegamper

    So here is something I don’t think was ever answered completely in what I have read. 1) Were the vehicles in question actually compliant with emissions standards? 2) Is the violation ONLY for failing to disclose all emissions control equipment)

    A light fine seems reasonable if the vehicles were compliant. If not, it would seem that a fine in proportion to the VW fine/per vehicle would be fair. However, I think you would have to reduce the fine appropriately if there is no intent to deceive the government/public on emissions.

    Personally, I have not seen anything to suggest conspiracy/coverup. If it is the case that there is no conspiracy and the vehicles were actually compliant, then a few million seems more than reasonable. If there was a conspiracy and the vehicles did not comply, Then it should be a figure that hurts bad, just like VW’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      If it were purely because the “didn’t know” they had to disclose the “emissions defeat devices” then it would not have taken multiple submissions and 9 months to get the vehicle approved. If they were compliant with actual emissions standards then they wouldn’t be requiring them to recall and fix the 2014-2016 models.

      • 0 avatar

        It still seems to be a failure to disclose after all I have read. Some of the non disclosed items I gather were not approved after the fact. Which required software changes. There is some question if they would have been approved if they were disclosed but we will likely never know. In this case unlike VW where it was an active cheat these were in place no matter if the vehicle was in test or not.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        A friend’s truck was not “fixed”. The sensors that were not declared were removed and the ECU reflashed. The truck met California’s smog check both before and after the recall, and the truck runs the same.

        It was all about the extra sensors and programming not being declared to the EPA. If FCA’s claim that it was to prevent possible engine damage under certain conditions is true, it will take years before that becomes evident.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          So your friend went into the future to get his truck not “fixed” and then came back to the present???? FCA hopes to be able to start fixing vehicles in May 2018.

          Every single VW passed the CA smog check w/o problems.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Good to see there are still fascists in our government.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Good to see you keep spewing complete and total BS.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      They’re not fascists, they’re just garden variety bureaucrats. They have their areas of authority and guard them jealously against all challenges, big and small. You’ll find that mentality everywhere, inside and outside of government. We’ve all experienced that mentality as adults, whether it’s the IRS, or post office, a bank, or credit card company. It’s not fascism, it’s just what happens when you give people/organizations power of any kind over others.

  • avatar
    George B

    Near as I can tell Volkswagen cheated to avoid the up front cost of emissions control hardware that would have made the Jetta TDI too expensive to sell in the US while FCA may have cheated to get better fuel economy numbers, better engine reliability, and lower urea usage. A non-compliant Jetta gets crushed and melted because the cost of making it compliant is too high. A non-compliant Ram 1500 can be made compliant if owners can be persuaded to bring their truck in for new software. What’s uncertain is what would be approved by the EPA if it was properly disclosed from the beginning. Probably doesn’t matter as long as diesel fuel is expensive relative to regular gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Speaking of VW diesels getting crushed I was at the wrecking yard last Fri and they had a line of TDI wagons windows down in the pouring rain hoods up for refrigerant recovery. Then there were dozens of stacks of 2 pallets high 16 tires and wheels per pallet stacked up. Then outside the office and on the way into the yard there were 5 pallets of the different styles of wheels with tires. They have obviously processed a lot of them.

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