U.S. Charges Stellantis’ Fiat Chrysler Over Emissions Fraud – Will Pay $300 Million Fine
The U.S. Justice Department charged the U.S. business of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) with criminal conspiracy in its multi-year emissions fraud probe.
Reuters reported last week that FCA US, a subsidiary of Stellantis agreed to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge resulting from its actions to evade emissions requirements for more than 100,000 older Ram pickup trucks and Jeep sport-utility vehicles lineups, and would pay roughly $300 million in penalties.
The U.S. DoJ charged FCA with conspiracy to defraud the United States to violate the Clean Air Act and commit wire fraud, said the automaker deceived U.S. regulators and sold the vehicles “knowing that those vehicles did not meet U.S. emissions standards”, and also deceived customers “by making false and misleading representations.”
The government said FCA’s property subject to forfeiture was $203.6 million. FCA is also expected to pay a criminal fine of about $96 million as part of the settlement.
The imminent guilty plea represents the final significant action U.S. officials are expected to take against FCA in the emissions fraud matter.
The affected diesel-powered vehicles span model years 2014 to 2016. FCA merged with Paris, France-based PSA Group in 2021 to form Stellantis.
The plea deal comes five years after Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to criminal charges to resolve its own emissions crisis affecting nearly 600,000 vehicles in the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.
Volkswagen’s deception precipitated additional scrutiny that resulted in officials the U.S. and Europe cracking down on automakers accused of using illegal software known as defeat devices to dupe government emissions tests.
European automakers relied on so-called ‘clean diesel’ technology to make vehicles that could comply with stricter environmental regulations, only for officials to find they were polluting more on the road than during the tests that certified them for sale.
Since Dieselgate, Automakers have focused their efforts on the development of battery-powered electric vehicles.
In January 2019, Fiat Chrysler agreed to a settlement worth about $800 million to resolve civil claims from the Justice Department and California in the diesel emissions probe.