Report: FCA Close To ‘Guilty’ Plea Deal With U.S. Justice Department In Emissions Fraud Probe

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Stellantis (FCA) nears deal in emissions probe — Stellantis sign
Image: TFLtruck

Stellantis has to take on FCA’s potential plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department over emissions cheats

It has been reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (now part of Stellantis NV) and the U.S. Justice Department are nearing an agreement to plead guilty to criminal conduct for evading emission requirements. Reuters reports that a source estimates the penalty may run between $250 million and $300 million dollars.

The indictment states that FCA employees installed, or conspired to install illegal software in certain diesel-equipped vehicles. These vehicles could deceive government emission testing, allowing them to pollute beyond legal parameters without detection. In many cases, this could allow the vehicle to perform better, without being constrained as much as competitor’s in the same class.

In this case, the fraudulent upgrades were detected in Jeep and Ram trucks equipped with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engines. Earlier reports indicate that 100,000 EcoDiesel models — namely the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 — allegedly evaded emissions requirements.

At this point, representatives for both FCA and the Justice Department declined to comment. Three FCA employees have been arrested in this case, and will stand trial in 2022. Furthermore, FCA already agreed to pay approximately $800 million to settle civil litigation brought by the Justice Department in a 2019 agreement. This is on top of legal fees, smaller settlements and potential sales losses as the emissions scandal wore on.

It’s not on the same scale as “Dieselgate”, but it’s still consequential

There are other, far reaching consequences for Stellantis, who is now responsible for FCA’s past financial issues. Many customers reported that their diesel vehicles no longer performed as they once did after the automaker’s efforts to address the emissions problem through a software fix.

Like Volkswagen, which agreed to pay $2.8 billion to resolve its criminal case, FCA/Stellantis is moving to restore consumer confidence and abide by strict rules that are now being more heavily enforced. As such, nearly all automakers are pushing ahead toward battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).