Stellantis has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges relating to emissions requirements on over 100,000 diesel-powered Ram and Jeep products sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was previously on the hook for $800 million in civil penalties over a so-called “defeat device” equipped to the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Allegations began in 2017 as regulators were hunting for compliance violations in the wake of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal from a couple of years earlier.
France has grown suspicious of Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares’ compensation, which the government has dubbed irregular and indicative of a need for further financial regulations in Europe. The issue doesn’t appear to have much to do with where the money is coming from, but rather the size of his current payment package.
Tavares oversaw the merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2021 while he was still CEO of the former company. Having previously climbed the ranks at Renault, the executive has served as chairman of PSA’s management board since 2014. Now heading Stellantis, Tavares is positioned to receive roughly $20.5 million in compensation for 2021. In addition to that, he’s reportedly eligible for a stock package worth an extra $34.7 million and long-term compensation of about $27.2 million — which the French government believes is too much.
Despite Stellantis making formal announcements that it will be investing 30 billion euros ($34 billion USD) into its novel electrification strategy, CEO Carlos Tavares has been making it sound as if the automaker’s plan was crafted under duress. He’s been telling European media that the widespread adoption of EVs is primarily being pushed by politicians who are ignoring the environmental risks and logistical shortcomings.
“What is clear is that electrification is a technology chosen by politicians, not the industry,” he said told the press this week.
Ram has been subjected to numerous investigations over the last few years, especially in regard to its heavy-duty diesel pickups. We can throw another item onto the list, as the manufacturer has opted to recall 131,177 HD trucks from the 2021 and 2022 model year.
While we recently covered an investigation launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to assess whether reports citing that late-model HD pickups using the 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel had motive issues, the current recall appears unrelated. The former investigation is centered around slightly older trucks and a loss of motive power presumed to be the result of defective fuel pumps that could warrant a recall. This issue is a full-blown recall surrounding a potential fire risk originating from an issue with the solid-state heater intake grid relay.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into nearly 605,000 heavy-duty Ram trucks. A report from the regulator’s Office of Defects Investigation has tabulated 22 complaints from the 2019 and 2020 model years, all of which use 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel engines, spurring the NHTSA to launch a formal investigation. Complaints revolve around loss of motive power, with most incidents occurring above 25 mph and resulting in the “permanent disablement of the vehicle.”
While the public was not made aware of the investigation until Monday, the agency launched its probe last Thursday on October 14th. The goal will be to establish how widespread the presumed defect is, what exactly caused it, and any potential safety hazards relating to the issue. Some headway has already been made, however.
Daimler is getting cozy with Chrysler again, or at least the American side of Stellantis, so they can tackle battery development and production. Those in the know will recall that Chrysler has been passed around more than a bottle of booze at a middle school party. But its long history of partnerships also kept it in business and resulted in some of its better products.
Before the Amero-French merger that resulted in Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was an Italian-American company with facilities dotted around North America. Prior to that, it was known as DaimlerChrysler – resulting in the LX Platform, Pentastar V6, and a wider variety of Jeep Wranglers. Now, Chrysler’s alienated German wife has shown up on the doorstep with a wad of cash and news that she’ll be investing it into the new battery business.
Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, spent some time last week promoting “EV Day” and talking about its EV plans.
We covered the event and the company’s plans. We’ve also noted in the past that many OEMs are talking a big game on EVs but it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll meet the timelines and goals they’ve set for themselves (speaking generally here, and not just about Stellantis).
While the future is up in the air, we do have a record of the past, and speaking about Stellantis specifically, that past has been one of unkept promises.
Federal prosecutors Tuesday unsealed new criminal charges that named several Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) officials accused of conspiring to cheat U.S. emissions tests and defraud customers buying their diesel-powered products. The indictment was opened in the Eastern District of Michigan, identifying FCA diesel senior manager Emanuele Palma (42) and two Italian nationals employed by FCA Italy SpA — Sergio Pasini (43) of Ferrera and Gianluca Sabbioni (55) of Sala Bolognese.
Palma had been charged previously and becomes a co-conspirator in the alleged plot to develop a 3.0-liter diesel engine used in FCA vehicles that could flummox emissions tests allowing the automaker to sell vehicles that did not adhere to government regulations. The motor started appearing inside engine bays in 2014, including popular models like the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jeep is laying off 150 workers that would have otherwise been employed at its Belvidere Assembly Plant, which actually produces the Jeep Cherokee instead of the long defunct, full-size Plymouth. Based on the timing, this decision appears to have something to do with the FCA-PSA Group merger that formed Stellantis.
The Cherokee Nation has requested that Jeep change the name of some of its vehicles. While you can probably guess which ones are causing offense, it should be stated that the automaker has been utilizing the Cherokee name to evoke a sense of power and natural harmony for over 45 years. But nobody is going to argue that native peoples have a decided advantage in who has first dibs on the title, especially in a time of unprecedented tensions regarding what’s deemed racially insensitive.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, certainly seems to think Jeep crossed a line. This is actually the first time the group has ever asked Jeep to change a vehicle’s name, though Jeep has also gone on record numerous times to defend its use.
While we knew Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would have to undergo substantial changes after it merged with PSA Group to form Stellantis, many enthusiasts were holding out hope that the North American Street & Racing Technology (SRT) engineering team would skate by unmolested.
No such luck.
The merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group is reportedly progressing smoothly, with the involved parties announcing general meetings for their respective shareholders on Wednesday. Scheduled to take place on January 4th, the summit is being held “in order to approve the merger of their companies to allow the creation of Stellantis, which will become the world’s fourth largest automobile manufacturer by volume,” according to a joint release.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has said that it might be looking at $840 million if it wants to settle a Justice Department investigation into excess diesel emissions and threw some mild shade at regulators.
The manufacturer noted that the U.S. appeals court’s August ruling that overturned the Trump administration’s July 2019 rule that suspended a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulation more than doubling emissions penalties for automakers is playing a major factor in that sum. Obviously, it wishes they hadn’t.
One of the main reasons Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is partnering with PSA Group is to help soften the financial blows of battery development, we literally just talked about it. But the French automaker has its own reasons for wanting to get into bed with the FCA, namely its rather diverse list of subsidiaries — with Jeep occupying spot número uno.
Despite being offensively American to some, Jeep is the sixth most-popular nameplate in the United States. It also happens to be world-renowned as an off-road brand and had made strong inroads in places you’d never expect. This has forced the brand to rethink its global appeal, requiring Fiat Chrysler to issue some market-specific models like China’s Jeep Commander PHEV and the Renegade 4xe — the latter of which is already sold in Europe and slated to launch this November in Japan. But these models are only the tip of the iceberg as FCA intends on meeting ever-tightening emissions regulations in major markets that aren’t the United States.
Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group are reportedly in the homestretch of their $38 billion merger deal and on the cusp of becoming Stellantis — the planet’s fourth largest automaker by volume. The plan is to join forces to help absorb the monumental cost of developing alternative energy vehicles (like EVs) without losing any brands or shuttering any facilities that weren’t previously marked for death. We’re inclined to believe it when we see it, however, as the duo are also targeting an annual cost reduction of 5 billion euros (about $5.91 billion USD).
It also hasn’t been a smoothest of regulatory rides. After spending years hunting for the perfect partner, FCA and PSA had to adjust the terms of their existing deal to contend with losses incurred as a result of the pandemic response. But it all seems to be fine now and the European Commission has given approval and that’s what matters in finally getting this deal done.