2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Bear Mountain, May 2014
In a case involving diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram pickups from 2014 to 2016, Fiat-Chrysler has entered into a settlement remarkably similar to the Volkswagen diesel settlement.
The big difference is that Fiat-Chrysler won’t buy back any trucks or SUVs, because all the vehicles are capable of being brought into compliance with emissions requirements by updating their software, says class-action settlement administrator Elizabeth Cabraser.
In the class action settlement, owners, of 2014 to 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram EcoDiesels will receive up to $3,075 in compensation for buying the trucks that did not live up to their “EcoDiesel” labels. Lessees and former owners can receive payments of up to $990.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, New York City, Jan 2014
The settlement amounts are designed to compensate owners for the cost of the “diesel premium” they paid for their cars above what a comparably equipped gas-powered model would have cost.
Owners will also receive limited extended warranties of up to 10 years/120,000 miles from the original date of purchase of 4 years/48,000 miles from the date they get their car’s emissions software updated.
To receive the settlement, owners will have to take their vehicles back to a Jeep or Ram dealer to have the software updated to clean up their emissions of nitrogen oxides, a major contributor to smog.
Former owners and lessees will be eligible for lower settlement amounts.
Cabraser, says the software update is not expected to affect either the vehicle’s performance or fuel economy.
2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
Under the settlement decree, FCA is required to repair at least 85 percent of the vehicles or face fines of $6,000 per vehicle that isn’t repaired.
The settlement, and the fix, apply to 2014 to 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram 1500 pickups with the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesels. It does not apply to a different emissions recall for larger Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups with a 6.7-liter Cummins diesel inline-6.
In addition, the FCA will pay $400 million in criminal fines with the U.S. Justice Department and California’s office of the Attorney General as well as civil penalties to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (since the engines were imported.)
The settlement affects about 100,000 vehicles, far fewer than the 500,000-plus Volkswagen affected by in that company’s diesel emissions scandal. FCA has set aside $800 million to settle the claims.
The company will also pay $19 million to California to support other emissions mitigation efforts in the state.
Bosch, a German automotive supplier which provided the original emission software is also contributing to the settlement.
Even as it agrees to the settlement, Fiat Chrysler claims that it did not deliberately scheme to install defeat devices to cheat emissions tests and it makes no admission of guilt regarding the charges.
“We acknowledge that this has created uncertainty for our customers, and we believe this resolution will maintain their trust in us,” said Mark Chernoby, FCA’s head of North American safety and regulatory compliance.
Authorities are targeting mid-May for the software update to be available, as the settlement still requires final approval by the court. Once it receives that approval, existing EcoDiesel owners will have 18 months to file claims and former owners will have 90 days.
Volkswagen wrapped up its settlement for 2.0-liter TDIs at the end of the year. Its vehicles (primarily Audis) equipped with 3.0-liter diesel V-6s has been released but those owners still have until Aug. 31 to submit their claims. A class action suit has also been filed against Mercedes-Benz over emissions from some of its Bluetec diesel-equipped cars, but it has not been accepted by a court.