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FCA Clean Air Act Settlement FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions, January 10, 2019

What are the key elements of this settlement agreement?

Our settlement addresses the violations by requiring FCA to: (1) bring the vehicles into compliance with the applicable emission standards under the Clean Air Act; (2) perform a mitigation project that reduces excess NOx emissions from other vehicles in order to offset the excess emissions caused by the defeat devices; (3) take measures to prevent future violations; and (4) pay a substantial civil penalty to ensure the company does not keep its profit from the defeat devices and to deter future violations.

  • Civil Environmental Penalty: $305 million
  • Federal Mitigation: improvement of 200,000 aftermarket catalysts
  • Vehicle Repair: CAA compliant repair of at least 85% of affected vehicles
  • Corporate Compliance: enforceable measures to prevent future violations

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Who is agreeing to the consent decree?

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board and the California Attorney General on behalf of the State of California, and various FCA entities. (FCA US LLC, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, V.M. Motori S.p.A., and V.M. North America, Inc.).

This settlement does not involve consumers, other federal agencies, or states other than California.

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How did EPA find this software? When?

EPA discovered these defeat devices at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL). This testing was performed after the EPA’s announcement on September 25, 2015, following the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, that it would perform additional testing “using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device.” The EPA initially identified at least eight AECDs in the affected vehicles that were not described in the applications for the certificates of conformity that purportedly cover these motor vehicles. The United States alleged in its complaint that one or more of these AECDs is a defeat device.

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Which vehicles are covered by this settlement?

The affected vehicles are the 101,482 model year 2014-2016 diesel Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees. 100,148 were registered in the United States as of October 2018; those are distributed as follows:

  Ram 1500 Jeep Grand Cherokee
MY 2014 14,222 14,053
MY 2015 31,923 8,251
MY 2016 29,186 2,513

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What does this mean for vehicle owners?

If a vehicle owner’s vehicle is affected, FCA will send the individual a letter notifying them about the recall and repair program. At that time, the vehicle owner can schedule an appointment to have their vehicle repaired. The repair consists only of a software update, also called a “software reflash” or an “Approved Emissions Modification.” No hardware changes are necessary. Once FCA repairs the vehicle, FCA will provide the vehicle owner with an extended warranty for the emission control system. FCA’s website, as well as a call center for the repair program, will also provide additional information.

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How does EPA know that the emissions modification will work?

FCA has performed extensive emissions testing to demonstrate that the emissions modification works and maintains emission controls that will meet applicable emission standards under real-world driving conditions. EPA observed this on-site testing at FCA and conducted confirmatory testing of vehicles with the emissions modification. This testing included standard regulatory emissioted vehicles are the 101,482 mns tests (“on-cycle” testing), as well as special tests (“off-cycle” testing) conducted in an EPA laboratory, and on-road testing using a Portable Emissions Measurement System (also called a PEMS test). CARB also tested vehicles that have been modified with the Approved Emissions Modification, including real-world testing with PEMs, to assess their emission performance. 

Furthermore, the consent decree requires FCA to demonstrate that vehicles that receive the emissions modification will remain in compliance with applicable emission standards for the vehicles’ full useful life.  A number of the vehicles will be tested each year for five years following entry of the consent decree to ensure that the repair is successful and that the vehicles continue to comply with emission standards.  FCA may incur additional penalties if the vehicles fail this in-use compliance testing.

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Is there an end date or a completion date in the settlement?

FCA is required to update at least 85 percent of the vehicles within 2 years of the effective date of the settlement.  The Approved Emissions Modification will remain available to consumers indefinitely.

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Why isn’t there a buyback option, like the VW 2.0L settlement?

In the VW 2.0 Liter settlement, VW was not able to demonstrate that it could repair the vehicles so that they would meet applicable emission standards. For that reason, VW was required to offer a buyback option for those vehicles. In this case, as in the VW 3.0L settlement, the affected vehicles can be modified to meet the emission standards to which they were originally certified and are not required to be bought back.  EPA’s priority has been to address the pollution problem and get the polluting vehicles off the road or bring them into compliance with emission standards. With this settlement, we are doing just that.

This settlement requires FCA to recall and repair these vehicles so that they comply with their certified exhaust emission standards.   The approved emissions modification has undergone extensive testing and will fix these vehicles so that they comply with their certified exhaust emission standards.

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What is a defeat device?

Generally, a defeat device is any part or component that defeats any element of design of a vehicle or engine installed to comply with the Clean Air Act.  Specifically in the context of certifying motor vehicles, a defeat device is a vehicle design feature “that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system under conditions which may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal vehicle operation and use…” EPA may allow such features to be included in a vehicle, but only if: (1) Such conditions are substantially included in the Federal emission test procedure; (2) The need for the feature is justified in terms of protecting the vehicle against damage or accident; (3) The feature does not go beyond the requirements of engine starting; or (4) The AECD is justified for emergency vehicles. 40 C.F.R. § 86.1803-01. 

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Do other diesel vehicles have the same software or problems with compliance?  Is EPA investigating? Are you going to test them?

It is essential that EPA maintain an active compliance and oversight presence and constantly adjust our protocols in ways that manufacturers can’t anticipate. In September 2015, just after announcing the VW violations, EPA informed manufacturers that the Agency would expand its confirmatory testing process to screen for defeat devices. We have done just that, and it was this program that uncovered the defeat devices in the 3.0 liter VW vehicles and the FCA vehicles.

The vast majority of manufacturers both foreign and domestic have demonstrated through extensive Agency testing that their vehicles do comply with stringent emission standards in all types of normal vehicle operation. This reinforces our determination to continue to apply rigorous oversight, to change up our testing as circumstances and technologies change, and to hold manufacturers accountable if we do find issues.

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