— A Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) emissions lawsuit is making its way through a California courtroom as the automaker battles claims that 2014-2016 EcoDiesel Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees are allegedly equipped with software that defeats the emissions controls.
The plaintiff, Jose Chavez, had his lawsuit consolidated into a Chrysler diesel emissions multidistrict case being held in federal court.
Chavez alleges EcoDiesel engines were advertised as friendly to the environment but were really harming the environment by exceeding emissions standards.
The lawsuit claims FCA knowingly concealed devices used to cheat on emissions tests while the vehicles emitted up to 10 times the legal limits of nitrogen oxides.
The plaintiff says parts manufacturer Bosch conspired with Chrysler to equip the vehicles with the defeat devices and to fool state and federal regulators, in violation of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.
Chavez says his 2016 Ram 1500 has lost value because of the alleged emissions devices and he thought he was buying a "clean diesel" truck even though the truck was spewing emissions that were above legal standards. Chavez also claims the truck has decreased fuel economy and power because the emissions system is compromised.
The only way for the truck to get the advertised mpg and power is to allegedly deactivate the treatment system of the emissions before they leave the truck. While providing the marketed fuel economy and performance, this also allegedly causes an increase in emissions that pollute the environment.
The plaintiff says in the lawsuit that Bosch and FCA worked together since at least 2005 to create and market the illegal software to make the trucks and SUVs legal and certified for sale in the U.S. In addition, Chavez claims that employees for Bosch worked hand-in-hand with FCA just as they did with Volkswagen.
The specifics of the lawsuit has the alleged diesel defeat devices activated by temperatures above 95°F and below 40°F. The plaintiff also claims testing shows the defeat devices are in use when the trucks and SUVs are climbing hills.
According to the lawsuit, the EcoDiesel trucks and SUVs allegedly cost nearly $5,000 more than non-diesel vehicles simply because they are advertised as "cleaner" than their non-diesel counterparts.
FCA says the EcoDiesel lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation are trying to do something only the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the legal authority to do. Chrysler's attorneys say the federal Clean Air Act is enforced by the EPA, not by truck and SUV owners in a California courtroom.
Attorneys for FCA further told the judge the plaintiffs can't prove a loss of vehicle value because of the alleged defeat devices and therefore don't have the legal right to sue. The plaintiffs also allegedly can't show how they have been harmed by the alleged emissions problems and owners never claimed the vehicles were a risk to safety.
Concerning charges of violating the RICO Act, attorneys for FCA say no laws were broken because none of the plaintiffs can show where they have lost money because of the alleged defeat devices.
The Chavez FCA emissions lawsuit is Jose Chavez, et al., v. FCA US LLC, Robert Bosch GMBH, et al., and consolated In re: Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep EcoDiesel Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.
Separately, Fiat Chrysler is in talks with federal prosecutors to settle allegations of installing emissions defeat devices in about 104,000 model year 2014-2016 EcoDiesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500s.
According to a letter sent to the automaker from the Justice Department, Chrysler will likely recall the trucks and SUVs and pay substantial penalties for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
CarComplaints.com has complaints about Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram 1500 trucks.