Regulators, FiatChrysler continue maneuvering in diesel tiff

  • 21-May-2017 09:53 EDT
FCA 3L diesel.jpg

The FiatChrysler-developed 3L diesel V6 at the center of the emissions-related investigation by U.S. regulatory agencies (image: FCA).

With a mid-May report that the U.S. Justice Dept. was prepared to file suit against FiatChrysler Automobiles if the automaker and U.S. regulators did not come to agreement regarding allegations that FCA used software to allow excess emissions from its 3.0L diesel V6, the company “responded” just days later by announcing it had filed an application with the Environmental Protection Agency for to certify its diesel-engine 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram models.

The automaker said it a software-calibration update proposed for the 2017 diesel-engine models is expected to achieve the regulatory compliance at issue with the previous model-year diesel vehicles.

The company said in a release it “believes that these actions should help facilitate a prompt resolution to ongoing discussions with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and other governmental agencies” regarding the months of talks that so far had failed to produce a resolution to the allegation that FCA—similar to the now-infamous situation that cost Volkswagen tens of billions of dollars to resolve—could have employed a software-based emissions “defeat device” that allowed excess emissions under certain operating conditions.

Regulators were adamant that FCA had yet to provide adequate explanation for certain software functionality for the diesel engines, so it is likely some will be dubious of FCA’s additional statement regarding its 2017 emissions-certification application that said, “FCA US expects that following EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) approval, owners of the 2014-2016 MY vehicles will be able to receive the software updates at their dealerships. FCA expects that the installation of these updated software calibrations will improve the 2014-2016 MY vehicles’ emissions performance and does not anticipate any impact on performance or fuel efficiency.”

Since the beginning of 2017-model production, the regulatory dispute meant FCA was unable to sell any of its diesel-engine Ram or Grand Cherokee models. In a scenario that displayed similarities to the progression of the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal, several months of negotiation between FCA and regulators had yet to produce a resolution.

Officials for FCA, including CEO Sergio Marchionne, insisted that the company had not installed software intended to deliberately generate excess emissions. At press time, neither U.S. and California environmental regulators or the Justice Dept. had responded to FCA’s application for 2017 diesel-model certification.

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