They say that cheaters never prosper, but that lesson may have been lost on Fiat Chrysler.
Even after watching their European cousins Volkswagen suffer through an epic scandal in which the company was caught lying about how much pollution their diesel engines were spewing into the air—“dieselgate”— the Detroit-based manufacturer allegedly decided to carry on with a similar ruse.
Early in January 2019, a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against the company in 2017 was settled to the tune of $330 million. The motion accused Fiat Chrysler of utilizing similar “cheat codes” as Volkswagen in some of their pickup truck and Jeep models, allowing the diesel engines to run more cleanly when being tested for air quality than when they were on the road. The company was also tagged for illegally importing vehicles not compliant with U.S. emissions laws.
But that’s far from the end of Chrysler’s legal and financial woes.
The company will also be on the hook for fines, recall costs, and the expenses related to fixing the engines. All told, the price of the blunder could eclipse $800 million.
Included in the pricey settlement is the recall of 100,000 diesel-powered Ram 1500 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees, spanning model years 2014 through 2016. Fiat Chrysler will be responsible for replacing the questionable technology and will offer owners an additional compensation of $990-$3,075 per vehicle. That penalty will be paid by both Fiat Chrysler and German company Bosch, which supplied the engine computer software responsible for the cheat codes.
The trouble began in the wake of VW’s own dieselgate scandal in 2015, when the EPA began investigating other major manufacturers for any signs of similar programs. Fiat Chrysler introduced the faulty diesel technology to their Ram 1500 pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokees in 2014, just before the news broke about Volkswagen.
For their part, the company has denied any wrongdoing, though it seems it will have to follow through on the legal settlement regardless.
Still, Chrysler fans can at least take solace in the fact that the company turned in a pretty stellar 2018, up 8.5% overall thanks to booming sales in their Jeep and Ram lines. Hopefully, all those who purchased the brands last year got vehicles as clean as they claim to be.