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Indie tests bad for VM diesels

by Bill Cawthon on

Bloomberg News reported that testing by West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) has found that the VM Motori diesels installed in Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees emit from 3 to 20 times the maximum legal amount of nitrogen oxide in on-road driving.

In tests of five 2014 and 2015 vehicles, the CAFEE also said that on-road emissions were higher than observed in laboratory testing.

The WVU center is the same facility that discovered Volkswagen’s use of defeat systems to pass emissions testing. The researchers did not say that FCA was doing anything wrong.

An FCA statement said the company has requested more information about the WVU testing, but noted that it apparently had been “commissioned by a plaintiffs’ law firm for purposes of litigation.”

2014 Ram Ecodiesel pickup truck on hilltop in Southern California

2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel pickup. Photo credit: B. Cawthon/Allpar

FCA goes on to say the CAFEE road testing included average speeds more than 50% greater than those in the EPA test. The vehicles were also carrying 600-700 pounds more payload than is used in the EPA testing and under road conditions, including grades, that do not match those in the EPA tests.

The Justice Department is suing FCA over what it claims is undisclosed software intended to cheat laboratory testing. FCA denied any intent to deceive; recent disclosures suggest that the software issues may be traced to Bosch.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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