We may not have heard the last of the dirty diesel scandal. Two of the Big Three automakers have recently been served with lawsuits alleging behavior similar to that which may end up costing VW $20 billion.
The US Justice Department has filed a civil complaint on behalf of the EPA, claiming that Fiat Chrysler installed defeat devices in more than 100,000 diesel vehicles. The EPA has refused to certify diesel Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs since January. Fiat Chrysler stated that it “intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat US emissions tests.”
The case against Fiat Chrysler has been brewing for months, and it doesn’t appear to be as simple as the one against VW.
A software device that reduces the effectiveness of emissions control equipment is called an Auxiliary Emissions Control Device, or AECD, and it is perfectly legal if used for certain reasons (for example, to protect the engine from damage while towing). A “defeat device,” like the one VW was using, is an AECD that is designed specifically to evade emissions control regulations. Fiat Chrysler says its software is not a defeat device, but rather a legitimate AECD that protects the engine from wear and tear.
Automakers are required to disclose all AECDs to the EPA before receiving the agency’s Certificate of Conformity. According to the lawsuit, Fiat Chrysler failed to disclose 8 AECDs. The question is, why not? Was it a deliberate attempt to game the system, or an honest mistake? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, customers have filed a class-action lawsuit against GM, accusing the company of using “VW-like defeat devices” in over 700,000 diesel trucks between 2011 and 2016. According to Bloomberg, the 190-page complaint contains 83 references to VW, and claims that the environmental damage caused might be even worse than in VW’s case.
In response to an inquiry from Electrek, GM stated: “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”