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FCA settles, recalls Jeep and Ram VM diesels

by David Zatz on

Keith Lang broke this story this morning at the Detroit News, and now FCA has responded.

FCA will pay around $800 million to settle diesel-emissions cases with federal and state authorities and owners, without admitting any wrongdoing. $280 million will go to owners of 2014-16 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500s with the VM 3-liter diesels, with payouts averaging $2,800, settling a class action suit.

$305 million in penalties will be paid to various government agencies (including the California Air Resources Board), and $72 million will go to states who had sued FCA. There will likely be additional payouts to other agencies and states whose lawsuits were not included, according to the Detroit News’ source.

In addition, the roughly 100,000 2014-16 Ram 1500 diesel and Grand Cherokee diesel are being recalled.  The company stated, “The software reflash does not affect average fuel economy, drivability, durability, or refinement.”  Affected vehicles will also “qualify for an extended warranty in connection with the software update.”

Regulators and independent researchers reported that the emissions control systems were sometimes shut down in cases not reported to or approved by regulators.  Automakers are allowed to shut off pollution controls under certain conditions, to lengthen engine life, but must report these conditions fully. FCA was also accused of shutting off emissions controls not only to lengthen engine life, but also to reduce use of an additive, DEF.


The repair is entirely in software, unlike some of the Volkswagen/Audi issues, which required new hardware. FCA can credibly distance themselves from Volkswagen’s case, which cost the company billions of dollars, because FCA engineers were likely unaware that there were any questionable software issues. Past Allpar stories have noted that the software in question was likely developed by a Volkswagen subsidiary and/or Bosch; FCA is credible when they write that they did not “engage in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices.”  As we wrote last year:

FCA did not install a specific “cheat,” but failed to inform the EPA (as required by law) of certain conditions which would spur the emissions system to temporarily shut down. … When VM diesels were originally being readied for Ram and Jeep, the engine maker was only half-owned by Fiat.  Two VM USA engineers claimed credit on a network site for their tuning; one said he was responsible for “after-treatment calibrations and strategies.” They were accustomed to then-lax European rules.

Two suppliers, IAV and Bosch, also took credit for the emissions controls. IAV, half-owned by Volkswagen, claimed to have worked on the nitrogen oxide controls — which are the key issue — at the SAE World Congress. The other, Bosch, reportedly wrote Mercedes’ diesel emissions software for the US — the same Mercedes that gave up on selling diesels in the US for the 2017 model year.

To prevent a recurrence, FCA said it was using “rigorous new validation procedures” and updated training.

The settlements await judicial approval from the federal district court in San Francisco. Aside from compensation to customers, the company is paying:

  • $305 million to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Justice, and California Air Resource Board (CARB)
  • $72.5 million to various state attorneys general, plus $13.5 million to the California attorney general
  • $19 million to California for emissions mitigation initiatives to compensate for the extra emissions
  • $6 million to Customs and Border Protection (presumably because the engines are made in Italy)
  • An unlisted amount to California, to upgrade 200,000 high-efficiency catalytic converters through the aftermarket

FCA is currently working on ways to identify vehicle owners, notify them, and provide service and renumeration.

Tom Polcari brought the Detroit News story to our attention.

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