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Ram/Jeep diesel issues finally settled

by David Zatz on

Two years ago, testing revealed that, under some conditions,  Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees with VM diesel engines were shutting down their pollution controls. The programming hadn’t been approved by the EPA, resulting in an investigation and a temporary end to diesel Ram 1500 production.

These issues have now been resolved by FCA and Federal and California regulators, and by the settlement of a class action lawsuit. As part of the settlement, current owners can get up to $3,075 in cash, but only after they have their software updated. Lease holders and certain past owners and lease holders can collect up to $990. The regulators did not find any wrongdoing on FCA’s part.

The deadline for class-action claim submissions is February 3, 2021. Claims will not be considered if vehicle software is not updated by May 3, 2021, through a certified Jeep or Ram dealer. Former owners and lessees must submit valid claims by August 1, 2019.

Allpar did some digging back in 2017, trying to learn, from public documents, whether FCA was indeed blameless, and found that the company most likely had no idea that its computers were not within the rules.  For some background, diesel emissions across the industry came under scrutiny after Volkswagen was found to have deliberately bypassed government tests, around the world, across numerous different engines, and for a long period of time.

The FCA case was more of a failure to report key actions on one specific engine, in one configuration, at one time. Volkswagen’s case apparently went as high as the CEO; while at FCA, it appears as though a supplier was at fault. To be specific, FCA did not install a specific “cheat,” but failed to inform the EPA (as required by law) of certain conditions which would temporarily shut down the emissions system. In contrast to Volkswagen’s programming, there did not appear to be any “test detection” programming.

It is worth noting that Cummins-equipped Rams were quickly determined to have no emissions issues.

When the VM diesel engines 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.

DEF-diesel

More significantly, 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 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.

As part of the separate consent decree with the EPA and CARB, FCA US agreed to apprise an independent auditor of the status of initiatives such as training advancements and certification process improvements. FCA US has launched three-quarters of these initiatives; one-third are already complete.

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