The California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency both cited Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Thursday. They accuse the company of including software in diesel-engine Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500s that allow the vehicles to pollute above legal limits, but not during emissions tests.
Dave Clegern of the Air Resources Board says that kind of software isn’t necessarily illegal, if it only works when vehicles operate in high heat or extreme environments. But he says it must be disclosed.
"We will allow these things, if they are the only way to take the load off at that time," Clegern says. "But it has to be for a very limited time and it has to be under very specific circumstances."
Regulators found the software during new testing, implemented after Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal last year, which involved more than a half-million U.S. vehicles.
Fiat denies wrongdoing and said in a statement it has tried to work with the EPA to resolve a dispute for months. The company says it will look to the incoming Trump Administration to discard the case.
Fiat "intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably," the statement says.
Last year, a campaign advisor said the Trump administration would look at paring back vehicle emissions standards.
Clegern says California enforcement of the case won’t change, regardless.
"We are allowed to make our own regulations as long as they are more stringent than the federal regulations," Clegern says. "And our investigation will continue based on our regulations at this point."
The EPA and Air Resources Board have cited Fiat-Chrysler for selling 14,000 vehicles in California with the software, and more than 100,000 nationwide.
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