EPA Fines Tuning Company $300,000 for Producing and Selling Emissions Defeat Devices

The EPA and Department of Justice hope this ruling puts all tuning companies on notice.

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The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice have reached a settlement with Derive Systems, maker of "Bully Dog" and "SCT" tuning software, over the manufacturing of emissions defeat devices found to be in violation of the Clean Air Act. Derive will have to pay a fine of $300,00 on top of spending $6.25 million to bring the company and its tuning products up to standards. 

The EPA stated that Derive sold products for multiple years that could be used to change the engine tuning on gasoline and diesel cars and trucks. The engine tuners sold by Derive allowed owners to access and overwrite the vehicles stock software, which could be used to defeat emissions controls such as diesel particulate filters, exhaust gas recirculation, catalytic converters, and other systems. 

The EPA put other tuning companies on notice in their settlement as well. Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said: “Manufacturers and sellers of automotive emissions control defeat devices should stand up and take notice of this settlement. EPA will protect air quality by vigorously enforcing the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on these devices.”

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According to a statement from the DOJ on the settlement, Derive will stop introducing new noncompliant tuners and will retrofit existing tuners to comply with the Clean Air Act. All new and existing tuners offered for sale must demonstrate that the use of the tuner will not increase vehicle emissions. Derive must limit access to emission control parameters in its tuning software and create a verification program for the custom tuning software, which includes training about vehicle functions, emission controls, and the Clean Air Act requirements. Derive must stop any marketing campaigns that would provide information on defeating emission controls and work with its distributors to prevent the packaged sale of its tuners with defeat devices.

"Every product we sell today is legal,” a spokesperson for Derive told The Drive. “We are permitted to, and will continue selling, our existing tuners and Advantage software. There is no need for resellers or consumers to return or swap out anything on shelves today, nor is a recall or fix required. We obtain Executive Orders for all applications we support. Our Enterprise fleet products, sold under the Derive brand name, have always and will always be compliant. The agreement solely pertains to pre-merger activities of legacy companies before they joined under the new company Derive and that had not been revealed to Derive management."

However, the Department of Justice consent decree states: "According to the schedule outlined in this Paragraph, Defendants shall not manufacture, offer for sale, sell, convey, or otherwise transfer any product intended for use on vehicles of model years 2000 and newer that contains user-adjustable features for the following: rear oxygen sensors, EGR, or any DTCs associated with these emission controls. Defendants shall remove these user-adjustable features from any of its Calibrations intended for use on vehicles of model years 2000 and newer prior to sale by the following dates: no later than June 1, 2019, for all of their Calibrations compatible with any Ford vehicles; no later than December 1, 2019, for all of their Calibrations compatible with any General Motor (GM) vehicles; and no later than August 1, 2020, for all of their Calibrations compatible with any other vehicles."

“For decades, Americans have worked hard to significantly reduce harmful emissions from cars and trucks," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department. "Tremendous progress has been made and the air is much cleaner today across the nation.  Unfortunately, not everyone is playing by the rules. Today’s settlement will bring Derive Systems and its aftermarket products into compliance with the Clean Air Act, and demonstrates to other manufacturers that products designed to unlawfully thwart vehicle emissions control systems will not be tolerated."

“We are committed to continued cooperation and a partnership with the EPA in the effort to serve our industry and guarantee that standards and practices remain current as automotive aftermarket technology advances,” said David Thawley, CEO of Derive Systems. “We look forward to applying the enhanced practices and procedures within our operations and across our brand portfolio and to our continuing leadership position in encouraging the industry to similarly embrace strong environmental performance.” 

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