— A Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel emissions lawsuit is working its way toward closure as the U.S. Justice Department has allegedly offered to settle the federal complaint.
In a letter federal prosecutors sent to Chrysler in January, about 104,000 model year 2014-2016 diesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500s would need to be recalled to repair emissions irregularities.
In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued notices of emissions violations to Fiat Chrysler for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
The government accuses the automaker of installing "engine management software" in the trucks and SUVs that allegedly alter how the emissions system function during testing compared to on-road driving.
The government further allegedly told Chrysler there is "compelling evidence" the automaker likely knew the trucks and SUVs were illegal when the vehicles were sold.
In May 2017, the Department of Justice sued FCA on behalf of the EPA for allegedly selling 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs equipped with the illegal emissions software.
Prosecutors allege the automaker concealed 3-liter EcoDiesel trucks and SUVs illegal emission devices that were never disclosed before the vehicles were certified, allegedly creating a circumstance where the 104,000 Ram and Jeep vehicles should not have been certified for sale.
In response to the lawsuit, FCA said it was disappointed prosecutors filed the complaint because the automaker had already spent months working on a fix for the diesel vehicles, something that will allegedly have no negative effects on fuel economy or power.
A person briefed on the matter confirmed the letter included language that a settlement “must include very substantial civil penalties.” According to Reuters, representatives from the Justice Department met with Chrysler and settlement adviser Ken Feinberg, who was appointed by the judge handling lawsuits filed against Chrysler.
Feinberg has become known as a compensation expert after his work with victims of the September 2001 terrorist attacks and his work related to the General Motors ignition switch disaster. In addition, Mr. Feinberg was involved in determining compensation for owners and lessees of Volkswagen's illegal diesel vehicles.
FCA's alleged problems were discovered following the revelation that Volkswagen marketed and sold diesel vehicles that emitted nitrogen oxides up to 40 times above legal standards. However, the automaker denies there was intent to deceive the public or government regulators.
A member of the California Air Resources Board told Bloomberg it was interesting that FCA has the same attorneys who represented Volkswagen.