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We all remember Volkswagen's "Dieselgate" scandal from a few years ago. The car manufacturer pleaded guilty to criminal charges and spent almost $20 billion in fines, settlements, and refit costs after it got caught gaming emissions tests.
Lesser known, however, was Fiat Chrysler's own diesel emissions scandal -- that company was also found to have installed illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests. And last week, a federal judge approved a $307.5 million civil settlement for about 100,000 owners of Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees.
This means most diesel owners (of 2014 to 2016 Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs equipped with 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engines) will get $3,075 each, along with a software update to make sure their vehicles comply with clean-air regulations. FCA has also agreed to extend vehicle warranties to owners of affected diesel vehicles up to 10 years or 120,000 miles. Robert Bosch GmbH, which provided emissions control software for Fiat Chrysler vehicles, agreed pony up $27.5 million of the total settlement.
"This agreement accomplishes our goals of holding FCA and Bosch accountable for their diesel emissions cheating, and of compensating consumers while protecting our environment," said Elizabeth Cabraser, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. Fiat Chrysler also entered consent decrees with California, the Environmental Protection Agency, and all 50 states to approve an independent auditor to monitor the status of various mitigation initiatives.
This, however, was merely a settlement of civil claims against FCA -- a criminal investigation remains ongoing. "The settlements contain no findings of wrongdoing, nor admission of any wrongdoing, by FCA," according to the automaker's statement. "The updated software does not affect average fuel economy, drivability, durability, engine noise, vibration, or other driving characteristics of the vehicles."
Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee owners now have 21 months to submit a claim, and then another two years to complete the repair in order to receive compensation. Between this and other settlements, Fiat is looking at about $800 million in emissions cheating costs.
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