Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is fast approaching a final settlement with the US Department of Justice in a lawsuit alleging that FCA equipped EcoDiesel-powered vehicles with a so-called “cheat device,” allowing the vehicles to pass emissions testing even while they emitted more pollutants than legally permitted during normal operation. Court-appointed adviser Kenneth Feinberg, who was also the star lawyer in General Motors’ ignition switch recall response and VW’s owner compensation effort after it was found guilty of cheating diesel emissions tests, says that talks between Fiat Chrysler and the federal government are moving “at a rather swift pace,” Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles lawyer Robert Giuffra says that the automaker has exchanged settlement document drafts with government lawyers. He believes FCA could reach a settlement in the diesel emissions suit “probably sometime during the summer.”
In late-January, the DoJ reportedly sent a letter to Fiat Chrysler’s attorneys that said any settlement would demand from FCA a recall of some 104k diesel-powered Ram 1500 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee CUVs, as well as a “very substantial civil penalty payment.” The rough amount being sought from FCA has not been disclosed.
According to Reuters, another three rounds of settlement talks are planned throughout April and May. Fiat Chrysler is hoping to use its newer emissions control software from 2017-model-year EcoDiesel vehicles as a fix for affected 2014-’16 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesels; the automaker is aiming to finish testing the updated software as a potential fix by the end of June.
Through all of this, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has maintained its innocence, claiming that it never intentionally outfitted any of its EcoDiesel-powered vehicles with software that would mislead regulators.