The diesel emissions scandal simply won't die.
Volkswagen wasn't the only automaker accused of rigging diesel emissions. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been the subject of an investigation by the US government since 2016 and now the Italian-American automaker has disclosed it could face fines of up to $840 million to resolve the US Justice Department's investigation. Excess diesel emissions, simply put, results in expensive fuel economy penalties.
Reuters also reports that, separately, FCA faces an additional $258 million fine "to settle matters under investigation by the US Department of Justice primarily related to criminal investigations associated with US diesel emissions matters." FCA previously paid other pricey fines, such as a $77.3 million settlement in 2016 for failing to meet 2016 fuel economy requirements.
That figure rose to $79 million in October 2019 following its failure to meet 2017's requirements. This past September, FCA agreed to a $9.5 million settlement over allegations it misled investors in 2016 regarding emissions requirements. But the case and expected new settlement against FCA regarding excess diesel emissions involve 104,000 examples of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 from the 2014-2016 model years. All were equipped with the 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine.
Federal regulators claim there's evidence FCA did not disclose at least eight emissions control devices on those trucks and SUVs.
Under existing law, some devices are legal and automakers can deactivate them but only under certain circumstances. However, environmental regulators require automakers to disclose their existence when applying for certificates to sell those vehicles in the US. FCA has not commented on the latest potential fine and it's unlikely it'll appeal such a ruling.
If this all sounds expensive, then it's worth remembering VW Group pled guilty in 2017 to using defeat devices to cheat emissions testing and ultimately paid a $2.8 billion criminal fine. A total of 590,000 vehicles were affected in the US.