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NJ Settles with Fiat Chrysler over Software that Cheated on Emission Tests

New Jersey is part of a multistate settlement of a case involving attempts to evade diesel emission controls. An engineering company is also paying for its involvement

CO2 pollution
Credit: Via Creative Commons

A car manufacturer and engineering firm are paying $5.3 million to New Jersey to settle another case involving the installation of software to cheat on diesel emission tests.

The payment is part of a multistate settlement centered on allegations that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Robert Bosch engineering company violated both consumer and environmental protection laws, according to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

The settlement is the latest among states suing auto manufacturers for installing software in diesel vehicles to evade emissions-control tests. Previously, New Jersey successfully sued Volkswagen in two separate cases to ante up more than $140 million for installing devices that deactivated pollution controls during emission testing.

In the latest settlement with Fiat Chrysler, the allegations stemmed from the company equipping two model-year 2014-2016 vehicles with an electronic emission-control “defeat device.’’ The device enabled the Ram 1500 diesel pickup and the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel to pass regulatory emission tests but release unlawful amounts of harmful emissions when driven day to day.

Nearly 1,500 of the vehicles were sold or leased in New Jersey, according to officials.

Air quality, health were put ‘at risk’

“In an effort to boost its vehicles sales, Fiat Chrysler deceived New Jersey consumers and put our air quality and the health of New Jersey residents at risk,’’ Grewal said. “That’s exactly what our consumer fraud and environmental laws are designed to prevent, and so we’re holding Fiat and Bosch accountable.’’

The settlement with Robert Bosch, a multinational engineering company, resolves claims against the company for its role in the marketing, development and sale of defeat devices involving both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen diesel vehicles. The company will pay New Jersey $3.39 million while Fiat will ante up $1.94 million.

Nationwide, Fiat Chrysler will pay a total of $72.5 million to resolve claims to 49 states while Bosch will pay out $98.7 million.

“Motor vehicle emissions are still New Jersey’s top contributor to greenhouse gases in the state, which is what makes this attempt to evade environmental law so egregious,’’ said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe.

Under the agreement, Fiat Chrysler is required to eliminate the defeat-device features from the software and provide eligible owners and lessees with extended warranties. The automaker and Bosch will pay eligible owners who take their vehicle to an authorized dealer for software repair an average of $2,908 in restitution.

Leland Moore, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the state settlement funds will go to support consumer and environmental protection funds. The restitution money to eligible owners is part of a separate class action suit.

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