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Feds sue Fiat Chrysler over emissions testing

Feds sue Fiat Chrysler over emissions testing
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The U.S. government on Tuesday sued Fiat Chrysler, alleging the Italian-American automaker installed software on more than 100,000 cars that allowed the vehicles to skirt air pollution limits.

In a statement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said 104,000 light-duty diesel vehicles with 3.0 liter “EcoDiesel” engines utilize software — called a "defeat device" — that limits nitrogen oxide pollution from those cars when they undergo testing. 

When cars with a defeat device installed are not being tested, they emit pollution that is “much higher than the EPA-compliant level,” the agency said. The allegations cover 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles with model years between 2014 and 2016

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The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Detroit, seeks to impose Clean Air Act penalties against the manufacturer.  

In a statement, Fiat Chrysler said it is "currently reviewing the complaint" but is "disappointed" officials filed the lawsuit.

"The Company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the Company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests," it said.

The allegations against the company are similar to those that have ensnared Volkswagen in a lengthy and costly legal fight with the federal government, consumers and manufacturers. 

VW has paid out more than $20 billion to settle lawsuits over its use of defeat devices, though its cheating scandal involves far more vehicles than those identified in the Fiat Chrysler allegations. 

Federal officials initially accused Fiat Chrysler of installing defeat devices on its vehicles in early January.

At the time, Fiat Chrysler said it believed “its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.” Company officials have also denied allegations from German regulators involving the potential use of defeat devices.

— This story was updated at 1:37 p.m.