Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is under fire from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which have accused the automaker of using a cheat device to help its 3.0L diesel V6 engine pass emissions tests. In North America, the engine is marketed under the EcoDiesel name and used in the Ram 1500 pickup truck and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.
The EPA says FCA contravened the U.S. Clean Air Act by failing to "disclose the existence of certain auxiliary emission control devices... despite being aware such a disclosure was mandatory."
FCA has responded to the accusations, stating it is "disappointed" by the EPA's decision to bring a notice of violation against the automaker. FCA says it believes its emissions control systems meet requirements and are not defeat devices, and "has spent months providing voluminous information" to explain to the EPA how its emissions control technology works and has even proposed software changes to "further improve emissions performance." The automaker says it "intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA U.S. customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements."
If the EPA's notice of violation holds water, FCA would be the second major automaker embroiled in a diesel emissions scandal; Volkswagen is still reeling from the fallout of its own TDI diesel scandal, which has been in the news since September 2015. The EPA says the latest notice of violation affects about 104,000 vehicles sold as 2014, 2015 and 2016 models in the United States; it's not clear yet how many Canadian trucks and SUVs would be affected.
An EPA press release says the FCA discovery came as a result of enhanced testing put into place in the wake of the Volkswagen revelations; the EPA said that testing revealed that FCA's 3.0L diesel produced "increased NOx emissions under conditions that would be encountered in normal operation and use," and found "at least eight pieces of undisclosed software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution." The EPA goes on to say its ongoing investigation will determine whether it considers those pieces of software defeat devices like those Volkswagen employed in its diesels.