EU Takes Legal Action Against Italy Over Fiat-Chrysler Emissions

A small-scale dieselgate could be in Italy's future.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Italy—as in the entire government—could be taken to court by the European Commission for failing to respond to allegations of Fiat cheating on emissions tests, according to Reuters. In a statement, the Commission said it was sending a "formal notice asking Italy to respond to concerns about insufficient action taken regarding the emission control strategies employed by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles." 

In other words, after inspectors in Germany accused the company of using a cheat device on diesel cars to help the pass emissions tests, the European Union believes Italy has basically swept the issue under the rug. The allegation applies to the diesel models of the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, and Fiat Doblo (Euro version of the Ram ProMaster City). Across the continent, officials say they're frustrated with governments that appear to be colluding with the auto industry and looking the other way on any possible cheating.

The EU has been cracking down on emissions ever since the disastrous Volkswagen dieselgate scandal. The auto industry is defending itself with a loophole that allows them to turn off emissions control systems if they need to in order to protect engines or for safety reasons. Conveniently, the device in question on these Fiat diesels turns down emission controls after 22 minutes, slightly longer than the time it takes to test the engines for emissions.

Italy isn’t the first country to be targeted by the European Commission for emissions. In December of 2016, the Commission launched cases on Britain, Spain, Germany (of course), and a couple other countries. The cases were similar to this one, alleging that the national governments weren’t policing their auto industries adequately.

All together, these investigations and court proceedings are looking like more nails in the coffin for diesel passenger vehicles.