Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and FCA US are being charged with violations of the Clean Air Act for installing and failing to disclose engine management software in light-duty model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines sold in the United States.
The software causes increased nitrogen oxides emissions from vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday. The allegations cover about 104,000 vehicles.
The EPA is working with the California Air Resources Board, which has also issued a notice of violation to FCA.
“Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle’s engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices.”
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle makers to show the EPA through a certification process that their products meet federal emission standards. As part of the process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any software, known as auxiliary emission control devices, that can change how a vehicle emits air pollution.
By failing to disclose this software and then selling vehicles that had it, FCA violated important provisions of the Clean Air Act, the EPA said.
FCA may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the alleged violations. The EPA is also investigating whether the auxiliary emission control devices are “defeat devices,” which are illegal.
In September 2015, the EPA expanded its testing program to screen for defeat devices on light duty vehicles. This testing revealed that some FCA vehicle models produce increased NOx emissions during normal operation. As part of the investigation, the EPA found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution.
On Wednesday, Volkswagen agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay 42.8 billion for cheating on emissions tests. In addition, a federal grand jury indicted six VW executives and employees for their roles in the nearly10-year conspiracy.