Now the US Is Preparing to Sue Fiat Chrysler Over Diesel Emissions

Things are escalating quickly.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The United States Justice Department is getting serious about allegations made by the Environmental Protection Agency back in January against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for violating emission laws in their diesel trucks and SUVs, according to Bloomberg. The (ironically named, as it turns out) EcoDiesel 3.0 V-6 in some 104,000 Ram 1500 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs has been accused of having undisclosed “auxiliary emissions control devices” that allowed them to pass emissions tests, but polluted much more in real-life use. Sound familiar?

Naturally, Fiat Chrysler is calling shenanigans. In a statement on Wednesday, FCA said, “In the case of any litigation, FCA US will defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company deliberately installed defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests.” When the EPA allegations first popped up in January, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said this case was “completely different” from Volkswagen’s and that he was “really ticked off.”

Incidentally, FCA is working on a software update for 2017 diesels that they intend to install on the 2014-2016 diesels affected by the EPA’s violation notice. This could simply be an unrelated software update, but it could also be interpreted as an out-of-court settlement with no admission of guilt depending on what the update actually does.

This news comes right after the European Union threatened to take legal action against Italy for the same thing. The difference is, the European case involves a different engine; a smaller diesel found under the hood of the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade.

If Fiat Chrysler is penalized in this case, it could cost them up to $44,539 per affected vehicle totaling a bill of up to $4.6 billion. Small diesel passenger cars have been in trouble for a couple years now, but if things go badly for FCA in court, it could put light-duty diesel trucks on death row as well.