Payouts begin for Ram and Jeep owners following settlement of class-action lawsuit.
Volkswagen isn't the only automaker to have been embroiled in a scandal regarding its diesel engines. So too has Fiat Chrysler automobiles, which is now prepared to start shelling out big cash settlements to owners of some of its diesel-powered vehicles. And if you're one of them, you could have a nice fat check coming to you.
This story started over two yeas ago when the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board launched an investigation into FCA's so-called EcoDiesel engine – the 3.0-liter V6 engine it's offered in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Federal and state investigators found that FCA had installed a "cheat device," ostensibly similar to the one that the Volkswagen Group installed in some of its vehicles, designed to change the performance of its diesel engines when it detects that it's being tested for emissions. Over 100,000 engines were determined to have the device installed, and the US Department of Justice pressed FCA into settling.
With the settlement now finally approved by a US District Court in Northern California, owners can begin claiming their checks for amounts as high as $3,075.
The payment will be granted to any owner of a 2014-16 Ram 1500 or Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with the EcoDiesel engine. Former owners and lessees (past or present) will get $990, and all vehicles will get a warranty extended to 10 years or 120,000 miles (whichever comes first).
"We are pleased the Court has granted final approval of this settlement, which will allow consumers to finally receive the vehicle they were promised, plus cash compensation," said lead counsel Elizabeth Cabraser. "This agreement accomplishes our goals of holding FCA and Bosch accountable for their diesel emissions cheating, and of compensating consumers while protecting our environment."
In order to get the money and warranty, owners will have to have their engines' software updated. However the manufacturer insists that "The software update does not affect average fuel economy, drivability, durability, engine noise, vibration, or other driving characteristics of the vehicles."
While Volkswagen freely admitted to wrongdoing in its "dieselgate" debacle, Fiat Chrysler for its part stipulates that "The settlements contain no findings of wrongdoing, nor admission of any wrongdoing, by FCA US." In addition to the ~$400 million in payouts, FCA will also pay a $305-million penalty, with German supplier Bosch paying another $27.5 million fine.