Major American Carmaker Pleads Guilty To New Dieselgate

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Damages will number north of $300 million USD.

In April, Suzuki and Stellantis offices were raided by European Union authorities. The case, put together by German, Hungarian, and Italian authorities, alleges that Suzuki committed fraud by selling more than 22,000 vehicles with an emissions defeat device installed. Stellantis was also hit by authorities because it agreed to make diesel engines, made in Hungary, for Suzuki.

On June 2, the US Justice Department charged Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) with criminal conspiracy in the Department's multi-year emissions fraud probe. This probe is, for now, limited only to vehicles with diesel engines, like those found in the Ram 1500.

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Frontal Aspect
Engine Bay

It's important to note FCA has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge The autos conglomerate will be admitting it circumvented emissions requirements for north of 100,000 Jeep and Ram models in the United States. Fines for that will amount to roughly $300 million. The sum lands at a time that couldn't be worse for a brand struggling to recover its production capacity in light of global supply chain woes. A hearing for the charges levied against Stellantis will take place on June 10th.

Filings state the charges for Stellantis/FCA are a clear violation of the Clean Air Act, a document that holds automakers and the EPA to a certain standard when producing vehicles. That document has remained largely unchanged since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Additionally, FCA will be forfeiting property somewhere in the ballpark of $200 million. However, what that property is remains unclear. Our best bet, for now, is unused engines that have been ruled in non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. Affected diesel vehicles span from 2014 to 2016, so perhaps some of those engines are still sitting unused somewhere.

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While Stellantis continues to beat the drum to a new, greener tune, the legal drama surrounding yet another Dieselgate-style scandal puts a very literal black, sooty mark on the conglomerate's efforts. Ram has recently confirmed when its first fully-electric truck will arrive, and Dodge has announced the Dodge Challenger and Charger will be going electric.

Whether Stellantis can move on from this remains to be seen. Public outcry over the matter has been somewhat limited, despite the scale of FCA's admission of guilt. Perhaps Stellantis' $2.5 billion US battery plant will help assuage concerns over the automaker's environmental commitments.

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