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Did Ram cheat? EPA says so; FCA says no.

by David Zatz on

FCA may be the first company other than Volkswagen to have been caught cheating on diesel engines — with around 104,000 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees powered by the VM 3-liter V6.

The news would explain why the 2017 Ram 1500 diesel has been delayed for so long — and is highly unfortunate for Ram, with Ford about to release a competing diesel pickup.

FCA’s stock price dropped by over $2 per share, down to $9.05 (updated 11:15 am EST), on the news, from a recent high well over $11. The full EPA report is now available.

FCA’s response is…

FCA US is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation with respect to the emissions control technology employed in the company’s 2014-16 model year light duty 3.0-liter diesel engines.

FCA US intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA US customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.

FCA US diesel engines are equipped with state-of-the-art emission control systems hardware, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR).  Every auto manufacturer must employ various strategies to control tailpipe emissions in order to balance EPA’s regulatory requirements for low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and requirements for engine durability and performance, safety and fuel efficiency. FCA US believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.

FCA US has spent months providing voluminous information in response to requests from EPA  and other governmental authorities and has sought to explain its emissions control technology to EPA representatives.  FCA US has proposed a number of actions to address EPA’s concerns, including developing extensive software changes to our emissions control strategies that could be implemented in these vehicles immediately to further improve emissions performance.

FCA US looks forward to the opportunity to meet with the EPA’s enforcement division and representatives of the new administration to demonstrate that FCA US’s emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus are not “defeat devices” under applicable regulations and to resolve this matter expeditiously.

The argument may be over when auxiliary emissions control devices can be used. The rules allow limited use, disclosed to the EPA, of bypass systems. However, FCA did not notify the EPA of software that can increase the release of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to acid rain, form ozone, and are believed to aggravate asthma.

The EPA is now determining whether the software can be called a “defeat device.”  Both the EPA and California Air Resources Board have issued violation notices. The EPA noted that they would not confiscate vehicles or stop owners from driving, based on past rumors.

Update:  We have now posted the specific EPA allegations.

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