The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed a lawsuit against automaker Fiat Chrysler, parts supplier Bosch, and engine manufacturer VM Motori over allegations of emissions cheating on 2014-2016 Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel trucks. The lawsuit accuses the three companies of racketeering, mail and wire fraud, deceptive trade practices, and violations of Texas consumer protection laws in connection with the sale of the affected Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee models.
According to the lawsuit, Fiat Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori conspired to install emissions cheating software on the affected RAM and Grand Cherokee models in order to avoid federal emissions standards. The cheat device installed on the affected Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models was designed to lower the nitrogen oxide (NOx) output of these vehicles during emissions testing, making them appear to emit lower levels of pollution than they would under normal driving conditions. This software was able to detect when the vehicles were placed on a dynamometer (large treadmills used for emissions testing) and lower the emissions output for the vehicles during the tests, enabling them to pass inspection.
In fact, the Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel trucks that were equipped with the cheat devices emit levels of NOx that are up to 20 times higher than the legal limit in the U.S. Yet in spite of these high emissions levels, Fiat Chrysler marketed its EcoDiesel models as environmentally-friendly vehicles for consumers who “who want to drive an efficient, environmentally friendly truck without sacrificing capability or performance.”
Consumers who bought one of the Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models equipped with the cheat device paid up to $5,000 more for these vehicles than comparable gasoline models. But in spite of these higher costs, the vehicles failed to deliver the environmental benefits or vehicle performance marketed by Fiat Chrysler.
As a result of the emissions cheating by Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori, consumers who purchased or leased one of the affected Dodge or Jeep EcoDiesel trucks will experience decreased performance from these vehicles if and when they are recalled for repairs by Fiat Chrysler. Owners of the affected models will also be forced to pay excess costs for fuel in these vehicles without getting the same towing power they were promised by the automaker. These vehicles will also be worth less in the used car marketplace as result of this decrease in their performance and efficiency.
Chrysler’s Emissions Cheating Scheme Uncovered by Regulators
The emissions cheating conspiracy between Fiat Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori came to light in the wake of news about the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal in September 2015. Following news of the VW’s diesel emissions cheating, environmental regulators began examining the emissions of other diesel vehicles to determine whether their manufacturers had been engaged in similar acts of deception.
When the EPA performed tests on the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge RAM EcoDiesel models, the agency uncovered problems with at least eight Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECDs) on these vehicles. The EPA stated that “some of these AECDs appear to cause the vehicle to perform differently when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with the EPA emission standards using the Federal emission test procedure […] than in normal operation and use.”
Because Fiat Chrysler had failed to disclose these discrepancies when it applied to have them approved by the EPA, the agency found that Chrysler was in violation of the Clean Air Act and issued an official Notice of Violation in January 2017. The California Air Resources Board issued a similar notice against Fiat Chrysler for violating California environmental laws in its failure to disclose the cheat devices on the affected Dodge and Jeep diesel models.
Following these violations, the federal government filed a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori. The lawsuit accused the three companies of violating the Clean Air Act as well as other federal environmental regulations.
Emissions Cheating Conspiracy Between Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori
The lawsuit filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson accuses Fiat Chrysler of conspiring with Bosch, a German-based auto parts manufacturer, and VM Motori, an Italian corporation that designs and manufactures diesel engines, to design and equip the affected Dodge and Jeep vehicles with emissions cheating components. Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori allegedly worked closely together over a period of several years to develop the emissions cheating systems in response to new emissions standards ordered by the EPA.
In 2010 or 2011, VM Motori released a new 3.0-liter, V6 diesel engine. Although the engine was originally developed for General Motors cars sold in Europe, Fiat Chrysler began working with VM Motori in 2011 to develop the engine for the U.S. using the EDC Unit 17 – an emissions control system developed by Bosch.
However, rather than bring the engine into compliance with tougher U.S. emissions laws, Bosch, VM Motori, and Fiat Chrysler worked together in order to evade federal environmental regulations. The three companies worked together to customize the EDC Unit 17 to enable to EcoDiesel vehicles to evade emissions testing, while also hiding the existence of the cheat device from regulators.
Federal law explicitly prohibits cheat devices like the ones installed on the 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge RAM EcoDiesel models by Fiat Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori. And because Fiat Chrysler lied to federal regulators in its approval application for the affected models by failing to disclose the existence of the cheat device, these vehicles were never legal for sale in the U.S.
Emissions Cheating Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson
If you own or lease a 2014, 2015, or 2016 Dodge RAM or Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel model, you may be eligible to take legal action against Fiat Chrysler, Bosch, and VM Motori over their alleged emissions cheating. The first step in taking legal action is to consult with a law firm that has the experience to advise you of your rights and handle your case.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed emissions cheating lawsuits against several major auto manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and General Motors. One of our partners, Michael Heygood, was named to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee that helped to oversee the $15 billion settlement with Volkswagen as part of the Dieselgate emissions cheating litigation.
For more information about the allegations against Fiat Chrysler – and to find out whether you may qualify to file a lawsuit – contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling us toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your vehicle to get started.