The emissions cheating scandal that plagued automakers last year is gearing up to make an impact in 2017 as well. Fiat has now caught the government’s eye due to suspected software on a number of its diesel models, software that switches to a lower (and legal) emissions output when it detects that the vehicle is being tested, then switches back to it’s regular violation-level of emissions once the test is no longer active.
If found to be true, Fiat faces fines of over $4 billion, as well as a required recall of affected Jeep Grand Cherokees, Dodge Rams, and other makes and models.
Unfortunately, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne denies any intentional involvement from the automaker, and when pressed for a response he stated that he hopes to move this discussion forward once PEOTUS Trump takes office. Trump has notoriously spoken out against environmental protection, and once vowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) altogether, something that he’s now reportedly going back on after a number of sources disclosed the obstacles he would face in even attempting it.
Interestingly, Fiat spent more than $1 billion last year in revamping US factories that made these exact vehicle models. Adding fuel to any speculation that Fiat thinks the new administration will be friendly to its pollution and EPA violations is the statement from last year’s announcement about the investment: “FCA executives did not confer with Trump before making the decision on the new big SUVs and a Jeep pickup truck, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking. The same source said Marchionne wanted to get out the news about adding jobs and investment in the United States in case FCA encounters more criticism from Trump.”
Volkswagen was the first automaker to come under fire and face harsh penalties for the installed software, launching a recall of diesel vehicles worldwide and causing major changes in the executives at the company’s helm.