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What were the diesel cheats? (Updated)

by David Zatz on

VM diesels

According to the EPA, FCA had eight undeclared “auxiliary emission control devices” (AECDs), namely:

  1. Full EGR shutoff at highway speed
  2. Reduced EGR as speeds increased
  3. EGR shut-off for exhaust valve cleaning
  4. DEF (exhaust fluid) dosing disabled during SCR (selective catalytic reduction) adaptation
  5. EGR cut back due to modeled engine temperature
  6. SCR catalyst disabled during warm-up
  7. Alternative SCR dosing modes
  8. Use of a load governor to delay ammonia refill of the SCR catalyst

Thus, the engine acted differently in real life than in testing; the EPA provided several examples of times when this affected emissions.

The law does allow for AECDs when needed to protect the vehicle, which is the reason for all of the cases listed. So far, nobody has determined whether FCA intended to break the law, or did so accidentally. Based on the results of the recall investigation, it seems likely that there were internal compliance errors within FCA — that it wasn’t intentional.

VM diesel

FCA wrote that they had “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” and had proposed “developing extensive software changes to our emissions control strategies that could be implemented in these vehicles immediately to further improve emissions performance.” Their press release indicated a strategy of waiting for EPA leadership to change, though this would not affect the outcome of pending private lawsuits or California’s actions.

The outcome is serious: in addition to two private lawsuits and California’s actions, FCA could be fined up to $44,539 for each violation, and some dealerships are also likely to sue, as they did in the Volkswagen case. Chances are Federal actions will indeed be dropped, but there could be billions in costs for other civil actions.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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