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Policy & Politics

Published on June 19th, 2017 | by James Ayre


US EPA Has Suspected Fiat Chrysler Of Using Defeat Devices Since Back In 2015, Newly Disclosed Emails Show

June 19th, 2017 by  

Officials with the US Environmental Protection Agency have suspected Fiat Chrysler of using illegal auxiliary emissions control devices (aka “defeat devices”) since as far back as November 2015, going by the contents of newly released emails.

To be more specific, emails from the director of the EPA’s Transportation and Air Quality compliance division, Byron Bunker, reveal that Fiat Chrysler officials were informed at a November 2015 meeting that “at least one auxiliary emissions control device on the car maker’s vehicles appeared to violate the agency’s regulations.”

In other words, US EPA officials suspected that Fiat Chrysler was using auxiliary software to defraud regulators and to market vehicles that release illegally high levels of some air pollutants.

As we reported previously, the US EPA in concert with the California Air Resources Board formally accused Fiat Chrysler back in January 2017 of using defeat devices in diesel vehicles as a means of bypassing emissions testing limits and laws — with regard to 104,000 US 2014–2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks.

Reuters provides more: “Byron Bunker, director of the EPA’s Transportation and Air Quality compliance division, said in a January 2016 email to Fiat Chrysler, obtained by Reuters under the Freedom of Information Act, that he was ‘very concerned about the unacceptably slow pace’ of the automaker’s efforts to explain high nitrogen oxide emissions from some of its vehicles.

“Mike Dahl, head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance for Fiat Chrysler’s US unit, responded in a separate email that the company was working diligently and understood the EPA’s concerns. He added that if the EPA identified Fiat Chrysler vehicles as containing defeat devices it would result in ‘potentially significant regulatory and commercial consequences.'”

That’s a telling statement, as regards the company’s opinions about legality.

Notably, these events followed closely on Volkswagen’s formal acknowledgment of its use of illegal defeat devices in its diesel vehicles.

With regard to the recents news, Fiat Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne commented on it in a similar fashion to his usual approach to such things, saying that he was “confident of the fact that there was no intention on our part to set up a defeat device that was even remotely similar to what (Volkswagen) had in their cars.”

As a reminder here, the US Justice Department is currently suing Fiat Chrysler for the use of “at least” 8 defeat devices in 2014–2016 vehicles, which were used to allow for illegally high nitrogen oxide emissions.



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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