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EPA accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating diesel emissions regulations

The federal agency isn't happy with auxiliary emissions control devices that appear in two different Jeep and Ram vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The US Environmental Protection Agency doesn't screw around with vehicles emissions software, and now it's turned its attention to Fiat Chrysler's EcoDiesel models.

The EPA today served Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act. It claims FCA failed to disclose at least eight auxiliary emissions control devices in approximately 104,000 vehicles. This includes the 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 vehicles, equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel engine marketed under the EcoDiesel name.

This only affects 2014-2016 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models. 2017s have not yet been tested.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

According to the EPA's testing, these diesel vehicles contain engine management software that appears to permit nitrogen oxide emissions in excess of legal limits outside of lab testing environments. The EPA has not yet called them "defeat devices" outright, as the government is waiting for FCA's response, but the failure to disclose this software in the first place is still a violation of the Clean Air Act.

This notice of violation only covers 2014-2016 vehicles. Model year 2017 vehicles haven't been checked yet. If penalties apply, it could be as high as $44,539 per vehicle sold.

"FCA US is disappointed that the EPA has chosen to issue a notice of violation with respect to the emissions control technology employed in the company's 2014-16 model year light duty 3.0-liter diesel engines," Fiat Chrysler said in an emailed statement. "FCA US has spent months providing voluminous information in response to requests from EPA and other governmental authorities and has sought to explain its emissions control technology to EPA representatives."

"FCA US looks forward to the opportunity to meet with the EPA's enforcement division and representatives of the new administration to demonstrate that FCA US's emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus are not 'defeat devices' under applicable regulations and to resolve this matter expeditiously," the statement continues. The lengthy full response can be seen on FCA's website.

The EPA is still assessing the magnitude of the situation and hasn't issued anything beyond the notice of violation. After Volkswagen's diesel malfeasance was uncovered in 2015, the EPA said it would submit new diesel vehicles to additional testing procedures, and that extra testing appears to have contributed to these findings.