In what may be the beginning of the end of car, SUV, and half-ton pickup truck diesel engines in the United States, there has been a lot of movement in the fight between automakers and the EPA. Here is what we know so far:
If you are the owner of a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, or a Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, this is probably not the news you wanted to hear. Not only is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involved, but now the Department of Justice is also. Both have filed suit against Fiat Chrysler alleging the EcoDiesel came equipped with eight different “cheat devices” on over 100,000 vehicles between 2013 and 2016.
Bloomberg reports the suits could bring fines and penalties up to one billion dollars. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne still denies the existence of these devices and vows to fight the charges. There has not been any talk of criminal wrongdoing in this case, although that could change in the future.
Recently, Fiat Chrysler petitioned the EPA to certify the 2017 model EcoDiesels so they can be sold. No 2017s have been sold up to this time, and the company says they have made modifications to the emission software that will get the vehicles into compliance.
My thought here, just my opinion, by the way, is if Fiat Chrysler can get the 2017 models certified to be sold, they could come back and offer up the same fix for the 2013 to 2016 models, avoiding a buyback situation like VW went through. The real question is how will the modifications affect fuel economy and towing capacity?
Don’t expect any answers on this soon. It appears any chance of Fiat Chrysler and the government settling this is long gone, and the legal fight is just beginning.
According to a Bloomberg report, Daimler Benz is seeking criminal attorneys to defend its executives, possibly anticipating criminal action for its role in another diesel scandal involving the BlueTec diesel technology.
Daimler disclosed in April 2016 that it was under investigation by the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the California Air Resources Board, which played a major role in the VW investigation and ultimate settlement.
This case, too, is long from over.
Last week, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of over 700,000 Duramax owners who say the trucks had “cheat devices” to ensure they passed emissions.
“These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves,” GM said in a statement. “The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”
According to auto news publication Automotive News, Barclays Capital, in a report issued after the lawsuit became public, said the risk of GM having to issue a stop-sale order on the trucks appears to be low. “Given this is coming from a class action litigation firm, it could just be ‘fishing’ for a settlement around charges of deceptive advertising,” the report said. “We’d only know that it’s more serious if the EPA steps in, as they did in the cases of FCA and VW.”
No additional news on the VW scandal at this time.