Fiat Chrysler pollution software fraud scandal

This 13 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

EPA: Chrysler Also Cheating On Emissions

Another company has been accused of cheating on emissions tests. Again, it involves diesel and the very harmful nitrogen oxide. Ana Kasparian, Ben Mankiewicz, Grace Baldridge, and Aida Rodriguez, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

“Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen had used illegal “defeat device” software that enabled hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles to cheat on their pollution tests. As a result, the cars emitted far more harmful nitrogen oxide on the road than they did during laboratory testing. This ended up being a huge global scandal that cost VW billions of dollars.

Now the scandal may be widening. On Thursday, the EPA also accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating — by failing to disclose software in at least 104,000 diesel vehicles that could increase their emission levels.

… One key thing to note is that it’s still not clear that this is exactly like the Volkswagen scandal, which featured a company that was very explicitly trying to fool regulators. Fiat Chrysler denies it was doing anything of the sort. Here’s a breakdown what we know so far:

1) After the VW scandal broke, the EPA began testing other carmakers’ vehicles to see if their pollution levels on the road matched what was being shown in the lab tests used by regulators. The agency discovered that a number of Fiat Chrysler models — including 2014 to 2016 model year Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees with 3.0-liter diesel engines — emitted higher levels of nitrogen oxide pollution “under conditions that would be encountered in normal operation and use.” (There are at least 104,000 such vehicles on the road today.)”

Read more here.

That was then. And now …

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, by Gert-Jan Dennekamp:

“51 million polluting diesel vehicles on European roads, but little action yet”

At a time when every gram of nitrogen counts, it is remarkable how easily the car industry seems to get off the hook. Because, according to the US Americans, Fiat Chrysler (with brands Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep) has cheated with the environmental tests for their diesels and has used fraudulent software. This appears from a US American indictment of a senior manager of the corporation.

The Dutch regulator RDW and the Dutch public prosecution service have been investigating Jeep for years. The head office is located in the Netherlands and for a number of diesels the Netherlands has issued the European environmental certificate. But according to United States justice, there is no doubt: the tests have been tampered with. The diesels emit much more nitrogen than suggested.

The RDW carried out research into all diesels that have been awarded an environmental certificate in the Netherlands. These cars were all suspicious during the first tests. After laboratory tests and discussions with the manufacturer, two cars are now under suspicion: the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Suzuki Vitara. Both cars have a Fiat Chrysler engine.

In 2015 the Volkswagen fraud became known. The company committed fraud with the environmental tests for diesels that were much cleaner during the test installation than in reality. The cars emit much more nitrogen than the rules allow. The diesel affair has cost Volkswagen billions. Top people are criminal suspects in Germany or have already been convicted in the US.

“There are 51 million heavily polluting diesels on European roads. It is an industry-wide emissions-manipulation scandal,” said Julia Poliscanova, of the Brussels-based Transport & Environment club. “But we see very little binding legal action against manufacturers such as Volkswagen.”

The results of the investigation by the RDW have been shared with the Public Prosecution Service. If it is definitively established in the coming month that both cars were equipped with fraudulent software, then the car manufacturers can be prosecuted. FCA, the parent company of Fiat Chrysler, is a Dutch company.


Whereas the RDW and the public prosecution service are still investigating in the Netherlands, they are one step further in the US. There, FCA paid more than $ 650 million to settle US lawsuits after the US regulator concluded that the company had used cheating software. The company says it has done nothing wrong.

But a month ago, a senior FCA manager, Emanuele Palma, was arrested. The indictment states that the company has indeed cheated and deliberately fooled the supervisor. “Palma and his co-conspirators,” the indictment said, tampered with the software systems so that the vehicles “produce fewer nitrogen emissions during federal testing procedures than when the vehicles in question were driven by real-world customers”.

The indictment is quoted from internal emails that the manager and his colleagues wrote. It shows that they wrote software that only worked during the tests. “Our approach will certainly not be accepted by CARB (the regulator in California). Because it is clearly focused on recognizing the test cycle.” Another writes: “If CARB discovered this, they would probably see it as manipulating the test cycle.”

A senior boss responds immediately. “Don’t call it recognizing the test cycle, even among each other.” The man who has now been arrested finally writes: “I want this software to become active, but I don’t want it to be known.”


The Jeep diesel was presented as an EcoDiesel, the cleanest diesel in its category. But according to the American FBI, Palma knew that this representation was “incorrect and misleading”. “The FCA diesel cars polluted the environment.” In the case of the American Jeep Grand Cherokee there is therefore no doubt, according to the US American justice and environmental supervisor: Fiat Chrysler cheated with the software.

The German transport minister wrote a letter to his Italian colleague three years ago, in which he accused Fiat of manipulation. The Germans tested four cars from the Fiat group and “similar behavior was found in all tested vehicles” as in Volkswagen. The equipment switches off after 22 minutes. A test only takes 20 minutes.

The RDW also came to the conclusion earlier that the Suzuki was also equipped with such software. The RDW finds this “inadmissible” and wanted to do additional research. That investigation is now almost complete.

John German of the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) put the US American government on the trail of Volkswagen five years ago. He thinks that there is certainly a case against Fiat Chrysler. “But whether it is watertight enough for a conviction is not yet certain”.

CHRYSLER AND PEUGEOT MERGE IN MEGA AUTO DEAL Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA Group have announced the terms of a merger that would create a new trans-Atlantic automaking giant with roughly 410,000 employees and combined revenues of $190 billion. Shareholders of each automaker would own 50% of the combined operation. [CNN]

Merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler presages new assault on autoworkers: here.

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