The United States Justice Department is said to be preparing a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for its failure to disclose the presence of an emissions ‘cheat device’ in vehicles with its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine.
According to Bloomberg, negotiations between U.S. lawmakers and FCA are ongoing, however if an agreement is not reached a lawsuit may be filed against FCA before this Friday. The suit claims FCA used a specialized software that would disable an effected vehicle’s pollution controls to temporarily enhance performance. FCA argues the device was not designed with the intent of fooling regulators.
“In the case of any litigation, FCA US will defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company deliberately installed defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests,” a statement released by the automaker last week said. “The company believes that any litigation would be counterproductive to ongoing discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.”
About 104,000 Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs are thought to be equipped with the cheat device. If FCA is found guilty of wrongdoing, the violations would carry a potential penalty of $44,539 per vehicle, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This would be equivalent to a fine of $4.6 billion.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne remains adamant that the automaker does not use any cheat devices on its vehicles. FCA’s problem in regards to emissions isn’t so much about a flagrant violation such as Volkswagen’s was, but more about FCA and the EPA disagreeing on what is allowed under the current regulations. The automaker filed to have the EcoDiesel V6 engine certified for the 2017 model year this week.