FCA CEO Marchionne: “We’re not trying to break the bloody law.”
In a public statement, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has levelled accusations against the Fiat-Chrysler Automotive group, saying that some FCA diesel passenger cars come fitted with software that allows them to mislead regulators during testing. Though the EPA statement did not detail how this was done, it is believed that the alleged FCA device goes about its business a little differently than how Volkswagen AG defrauded regulators (a move that would result in two arrests, four more execs under scrutiny, and more than US$20bil out of the company’s pockets).
In a joint statement with the Californian Air Resources Board, the EPA said that it believes FCA fitted undeclared auxiliary emissions control software, which permitted the affected vehicles to enjoy better performance at the expense of increased emissions, as the software would kick in only during regulatory testing. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman was quoted as being “deeply troubled” by this development, and that he “will investigate the claims against Fiat-Chrysler, and stand ready to work with state & federal partners.”
On the other end of things, Fiat-Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne was angered by the EPA allegations, and aired his view on things during a “hastily-assembled” conference call with reporters. According to Reuters, Marchionne said, “I’m really pissed off” about how his company was being considered in the same rung as Volkswagen. “The way it has been described, I think, has been unfair to FCA, and that is the thing that disturbs me the most.” The outspoken Italian then went on to say he feels that regulators see automotive manufacturers as “belligerent.” “We don’t belong to a class of criminals. We’re not trying to break the bloody law,” he said.
The EPA has clarified that it believes FCA was not completely forthcoming regarding engine management software into less than 104,000 US-model Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Dodge Ram 1500 utes that come with 3.0-litre turbodiesel engines. Cynthia Giles, an official at the EPA, said that FCA was obligated to inform them if it was indeed “illegal software,” though the term “defeat device” may not be completely accurate at this time. The EPA went on to say that it found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can alter how the affected drivetrains emit pollution.
Although FCA has no intention to stop sales of the affected cars, it has in the past issued a recall notice for one of the pieces of software mentioned in the EPA report in the past.