Yesterday morning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that an investigation has been launched into possible diesel cheating on diesel V6 Jeep and Ram vehicles made between 2014 and 2016. The vehicles covered under the EPA’s investigation include 104,000 Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 trucks with the 3.0L Ecodiesel engines.
The EPA alleges that these vehicles had “at least eight auxiliary emission control devices” that were not disclosed to the agency. The EPA claims that the software yields different tailpipe emissions when in real world usage versus in laboratory testing, and depends highly upon operating conditions. In other words, FCA is being accused of implementing a system that passes lab certification tests but actually emits more emissions in the real world for better fuel economy and performance. This is similar to what Volkswagen was ultimate found guilty of.
The EPA has not yet labeled this a defeat device but has sent FCA a notice of violation requesting that the company “show them why these controls devices do not constitute ‘defeat devices.’”
So, how does this potentially affect the diesel Wrangler model expected to be introduced with the next-gen JL Wrangler? Obviously, it depends on whether FCA is ultimately exonerated or found guilty of these allegations. If FCA is found to have implemented a cheat system, the fallout would be severe. A large fine would certainly be part of the settlement – for buyback/owner compensation as well as going to programs to offset excess emissions and clean car projects. The fine could easily be in the billions as any automaker caught selling a vehicle in violation of Clean Air Act guidelines could face a fine of $44,539 per vehicle. In this case, the potential fine is over $4.6 billion.
FCA would also be required to make changes to its V6 diesel powertrain to eliminate the cheat systems for retesting and rectification by the EPA. This process could very well delay the implementation of the V6 diesel into the JL/JLU Wrangler and JT Pickup. The public image fallout from this outcome may also hurt sales of FCA’s diesel models (including the diesel Wrangler) which in turn may lead FCA to nix the the diesel option for some of its models. The diesel Wrangler, which has never been offered before, could easily be such a casualty. VW serves as a cautionary example — the negative feelings towards VW in the wake of Dieselgate has been so widespread as to lead the company to stop selling diesel models in the U.S. altogether.
In the interest of the future of the diesel Wrangler, we hope FCA is cleared of any wrongdoing. If that should happen, we hope that the declaration is made by the EPA as soon as possible so as to avoid any delay in rolling out the diesel engine for the JL Wrangler.
What are your thoughts on these allegations? Share your thoughts with us inside.