The diesel scandal continues with Fiat now in chaos over diesel emissions
Many people purchased diesel cars based on totally incorrect information provided to them. But as more diesel cars are on the roads than there might otherwise have been, it is clear that there are implications for public health as diesel engines are often the biggest cause of air pollution in built-up urban areas. The scandal rages on as Fiat is the latest manufacturer in chaos over diesel emissions.
The Fiat diesel emission story
A year ago, investigators visited several offices of Fiat-Chrysler in Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. According to German prosecutors, defeat devices were allegedly used in some of the car company’s engines. These devices are designed to cheat emissions tests by faking diesel pollution output.
The investigation in July 2020 focused on Fiat, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo engines. CNH Industrial, makers of Iveco trucks, was also probed by the authorities. Emissions fraud investigators said around 200,000 cars were equipped with the cheat device. Fiat-Chrysler and CNH Industrial are both controlled by the Agnelli family of the Italian holding company Exor.
The statement released by European Union agency Eurojust specified that they were investigating some people who were reportedly responsible for allowing the installation of the cheat devices. Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) fully cooperated in the investigations.
In October 2020, a legal firm that helps alleged victims of big companies, filed a High Court lawsuit against FCA worth around £5 billion. The case allows victims to benefit from a “no-win-no-fee” diesel emissions claim. According to the firm, Fiat-Chrysler deceived their customers by keeping the presence of the device a secret from their customers. Claimants are expected to receive about £10,000 each.
Although they were fully cooperative during the investigations, an FCA representative said they were prepared to defend the company from allegations that had, they claimed, no merit.
The office raids were conducted in Baden-Württemberg and Hesse in Germany and Piedmont in Italy. In Switzerland, the raid took place in some places in Thurgau Canton.
Why high diesel emissions are harmful
High diesel emissions are harmful to people and may also affect vehicle performance. They emit or release NOx or nitrogen oxide, which significantly contributes to air pollution and may cause respiratory problems, especially in children and the health-compromised population. These emissions are extremely toxic and cause more than 40,000 deaths annually.
In addition, NOx pollutants may also affect vehicle performance and, in particular, increase maintenance and fuel costs. This is why high diesel emissions are a major concern in the United Kingdom and Europe.
The VW diesel emissions scandal
The first diesel emissions case dates back to 2015, when car manufacturer Volkswagen was found to have used defeat devices for some of their vehicles that came out from 2009 to 2015. It involved about half a million VW diesel models that were installed with the software.
The device sensed when the vehicles were in test mode and automatically reduced emissions. Hence, during such trials, the vehicles appeared to be in full compliance with the legal emission levels. However, during normal driving, the device switches off, and the vehicle starts emitting levels of toxic fumes that are beyond the legal limits. This emissions scandal became known as the Dieselgate Scandal.
To date, Volkswagen has spent £27 billion in fines and claims, and claimants continue to file their cases against the company.
In addition, Volkswagen is also prohibited from selling new diesel car models, except if these are 2015 VW models that are being sold as new. Pre-owned and used diesel models are also not allowed to be sold.
Aside from Volkswagen, other car manufacturers have also been caught using cheat devices. Some of these are BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Daimler.
Fiat-Chrysler manager’s U.S. indictment
In 2019, a grand jury in the United States indicted Emanuele Palma, a Fiat-Chrysler senior manager. The charges were for alleged lying about diesel emissions and deceiving regulators even after Volkswagen was already caught using cheat devices for their vehicles.
The indictment happened on the same day that VW’s board chairman and CEOs were charged by German prosecutors for misleading their investors about their use of the defeat devices.
Fiat-Chrysler cooperated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 when additional testing of their diesel vehicles was required. In November that same year, the agency notified FCA that some of their vehicles were suspected of utilising emissions test defeat devices.
FCA agreed to pay an estimated £575.6 million (US$800 million) to settle civil claims charges filed by the Justice Department.
The High Court lawsuit against FCA by European authorities is for breaching the emissions rules in the EU and UK.
Authorities indicated that the models affected by the investigation in Germany mostly belong to the Family B Fiat range of engines. These are:
- 3-liter Multijet
- 6-liter Multijet
- 0-liter Multijet
These engines fall under two emissions classes for Fiat, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo vehicles: EU5 and EU6.
In addition, FCA commercial car engines are also on the list, specifically:
- 110 Multijet F1AE3481G
- 180 Multijet F1CE3481E
- 150 Multijet F1AE3481D
- 115 Multijet 250A1000
What to do if your car is affected
The Fiat emissions scandal is expected to affect more or less 500,000 vehicles across the company’s brands. If your Fiat is one of the affected models indicated above, you can file a claim for being robbed and deceived. Find a panel of solicitors who can help you work on your claims. The experts over at https://www.emissions.co.uk will know what to do.