Maryland to receive $6 million in diesel emissions test cheating settlements with Fiat Chrysler, Bosch

Fiat Chrysler and automotive software supplier Bosch will pay Maryland more than $6 million as part of a national settlement over allegations they were involved in use of illegal devices to make diesel-powered vehicles appear to meet emissions requirements when they did not.

The Italian-American automaker has agreed to pay more than $650 million in fines to states and the federal government and in compensation for owners. The scandal involves 100,000 diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickup trucks in model years 2014 through 2016, about 1,200 of which were sold in Maryland, authorities said.

Those vehicles were marketed as “clean” and “green,” but multistate investigations found they had been installed with “defeat devices” that allowed them to pass emissions tests. In regular driving, they exceeded emissions limits to achieve better fuel economy, investigators found.

German company Bosch is being held responsible for its roles in scandals involving both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen, which reached settlements over emissions test defeat devices last year. Bosch provided the software that controlled emissions systems in the Fiat Chrysler vehicles and over half a million diesel Volkswagens, authorities said.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office co-led the investigation, which involved all states besides California, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. California filed its own lawsuit.

Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said some of the money would be put toward launching an electric school bus pilot program in the state.

“This settlement shows polluters will pay a stiff price for breaking the laws that protect the air Marylanders breathe,” Grumbles said in a statement.

Under Maryland’s share of the settlement, Bosch must pay the attorney general’s office and Maryland Department of the Environment $3.9 million.

Fiat Chrysler must pay the state $2.4 million, covering for costs of the investigation, penalties for alleged violations of Maryland’s environmental laws and funds to provide restitution for Maryland consumers who purchased the affected diesel vehicles.

The settlements are also conditioned on Fiat Chrysler fixing all of the affected vehicles so that they are emissions compliant, paying owners between $2,460 and $3,075 through a class-action claims process, and providing an extended warranty on the vehicles’ emissions systems. Lessees and some former owners of the vehicles will receive $990, state officials said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first accused Fiat Chrysler of wrongdoing in January 2017 when it issued a notice alleging the company violated the Clean Air Act with excessive emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide. Four months later, the Justice Department sued on the EPA’s behalf alleging that software on diesel engines allowed them to emit more pollution on the road than during EPA lab tests.

The government accused the automaker of putting eight “software-based features” on 3-liter V6 engines that powered the Jeep and Ram vehicles. Fiat Chrysler failed to disclose the software during the process to become certified so the vehicles can be sold, according to the EPA. The agency said the software changes the way the vehicles perform on treadmill tests in a laboratory.

“Each of these vehicles differs materially from the specifications provided to EPA in the certification applications,” the government said.

The company contended that unlike Volkswagen, it did not install the software with the intent to cheat on tests. The software turned off the pollution control system under extreme circumstances such as climbing mountains in order to prevent engine damage, which is allowed under federal regulations, Fiat Chrysler said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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