FCA responds to EPA claims of emissions violations

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FCA said its emissions control strategies are “properly justified” and not defeat devices similar to the software used by Volkswagen to cheat regulators around the world.

The statement, made Thursday by the Auburn Hills-based automaker, comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) accused the automaker of allegedly installing and failing to disclose software that increases air pollution in certain diesel models.

The EPA issued 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. Affected models include Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500s.

FCA said in a statement published on its website that it intends to “work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably and to assure the EPA and FCA U.S. customers that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.”

According to the company, FCA U.S. diesel engines are equipped with emission control systems hardware, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR).

Every auto manufacturer must employ various strategies to control tailpipe emissions in order to balance EPA’s regulatory requirements for low nitrogen oxide emissions and requirements for engine durability and performance, safety and fuel efficiency.

FCA said it believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirements.

“FCA U.S. 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,” the statement read.

“FCA US has proposed a number of actions to address EPA’s concerns, including developing extensive software changes to our emissions control strategies that could be implemented in these vehicles immediately to further improve emissions performance.”

The EPA and CARB, however, feel the undisclosed software has resulted in increased emissions in roughly 104,000 affected vehicles. Both agencies have initiated investigations based on FCA’s alleged actions.

“Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said CARB chair Mary Nichols.

“CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”

The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to demonstrate to EPA through a certification process that their products meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution.

As part of the certification process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any software, known as auxiliary emission control devices, which can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution.