Regulators are accusing Italian-American car giant Fiat Chrysler of deliberately skirting federal emissions testing for some of its diesel vehicles.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials on Thursday said the automaker installed software on up to 104,000 diesel vehicles allowing them to emit more pollution than federal law allows.
The accusations cover model year 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 trucks with 3-liter diesel engines. The software allegedly installed on the vehicles allows them to emit more nitrogen oxide pollution than the Clean Air Act allows.
The government could seek penalties against the company, the second automaker the EPA has accused of breaking emissions rules in the past two years.
“Some of the devices appear to cause the vehicle to perform differently when being tested than under normal use. There is no doubt they are contributing to illegal pollution,” Cynthia Giles, EPA’s assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said Thursday.
“Our meetings with Fiat Chrysler to date have not produced a viable answer to why these [devices] do not violate federal law.”
In a statement, the automaker said it “believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.”
The company “intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and [Fiat Chrysler] US customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.”
Thursday’s announcement came one day after the EPA and Volkswagen announced a settlement in the German automaker’s emissions testing scandal.
The company will pay $4.3 billion in fines — on top of the $15.9 billion paid out to auto owners and franchisees — after officials revealed in 2015 that VW installed software to sidestep nitrogen oxide emissions tests on up to 11 million vehicles.
Six executives at the company have been charged in connection to that scandal.
German regulators have previously accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating on its exhaust treatment systems for vehicles sold in Europe. When Germany leveled the accusations in September, the company denied them.
The EPA’s announcement comes less than a week after Fiat Chrysler said it would spend up to $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing operations, a decision that won praise from President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE.
Shares of Fiat Chrysler fell more than 18 percent in early Thursday trading.