Fiat Chrysler to pay $800M to settle diesel emissions suits, fix vehicles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will pay more than $800 million to settle lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and states, and to fix vehicles fitted with a diesel V-6 engine that used illegal software to pass federal emissions standards.

FCA said Thursday that the total is on par with the $815 million the automaker set aside during the third quarter of 2018 in anticipation of the settlement. About $305 million of that is earmarked for penalties levied by the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board.

MORE: Study: Jeep, Ram diesels emit up to 20 times the legal limit of pollutants

The 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine fitted with noncompliant software was available in 2014 to 2016 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram 1500 pickup trucks. About 104,000 Jeeps and Rams were sold with the diesel engine in the U.S. 

FCA has denied that the engine’s computer system was intentionally equipped with illegal software, although the EPA has used the word “cheating” in its statements. 

Regulators approved updated software that makes the engines compliant with federal standards in the summer of 2017, about six months after the EPA first accused FCA of violating the Clean Air Act. 

Owners of the affected Jeeps and Rams will be eligible for around $2,800 from FCA, depending on how long they’ve had their vehicles. They will receive that settlement if they have the approved software update performed by a dealer. It’s unclear when the updates will be made available to owners of affected vehicles.

FCA said in a statement that the update is a quick software fix and does not include new emissions hardware. The automaker said that the software reflash has no effect on average fuel economy or vehicle drivability. The software update is also covered by an extended warranty. 

Regulators have increased scrutiny on diesel engines in the wake of Volkswagen’s admission in 2015 that it systematically and intentionally installed cheat software on its diesel cars in the U.S. 

Unlike VW’s exit from the diesel market in the U.S., the settlement hasn’t deterred FCA. The automaker plans to sell new Ram trucks and Jeep Wrangler SUVs with versions of the turbodiesel engine by the end of 2019. 

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