Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has negotiated a plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department over a years-long probe regarding emissions fraud with select Ram and Jeep vehicles. According to Reuters, the company will plead guilty to criminal conduct and face fines upwards of $300 million.
Diesel-powered Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs from 2014 to 2016 were the subject of the investigation. In 2017, the EPA issued a notice of violation to FCA for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 was said to emit increased levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in certain driving situations, notably at higher speeds, using engine management software that wasn’t disclosed to the EPA for testing. As a result, emissions levels were higher under certain driving conditions.
In 2021, FCA became part of the Stellantis conglomerate of over a dozen auto manufacturers. Motor1.com contacted Stellantis for a statement on the settlement, but a reply wasn’t received prior to publication. Reuters states an official announcement on the plea deal could come as early as next week.
This won’t be the first settlement FCA has reached regarding this issue. In early 2019, the automaker settled civil, environmental, and consumer claims regarding diesel emission violations, ultimately paying fines of $800 million. In addition, recall notices for approximately 100,000 Ram and Jeep vehicles went out for updated engine software, rectifying the emissions issue. At the time, FCA said the software update wouldn’t affect overall fuel consumption or drivability. However, Consumer Reports claimed that Ram and Jeep owners experienced noticeable drops in power and economy.
In addition to this guilty plea, Reuters reports that an FCA employee will face charges of misleading regulators regarding the issue. An indictment allegedly claims the individual conspired to install defeat devices to pass vehicles during testing. FCA has previously stated no such devices were used, and in the 2019 settlement, the company stands by its position while not admitting to any violations of emissions rules.