In a pair of July 2017 filings, regulators in California and Washington, D.C. approved fixes for older Volkswagen diesel vehicles, allowing those cars to stay on the road. Regulators also approved software fixes to emissions systems of FCA US LLC trucks, allowing that automaker to resume sales of diesel-equipped Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utilities.
Emissions modifications to about 326,000 VW cars equipped with 2L diesel engines from the 2012 to 2014 model years will lower fuel economy by roughly 2mpg, but they will allow drivers to keep their cars. Drivers can also sell their vehicles back to VW as part of a $10 billion series of settlements between the automaker and regulators following the 2015 discovery of massive cheating on U.S. Clean Air Act rules.
“VW must still successfully modify thousands of earlier model vehicles, or prepare to buy them back,” says California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Officer Richard Corey.
Federal and California regulators had approved an earlier VW fix to a smaller group of vehicles in January 2017.
VW officials praised regulators for approving the software changes, saying, “This important milestone means that an approved emissions modification is now available for more than 98% of eligible 2L TDI vehicles in the United States.”
FCA officials say they have received a certificate of conformity from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a conditional executive order from CARB permitting the production and sale of 2017 model year Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with 3L diesel engines.
In January, those agencies accused FCA of cheating on emissions rules by having software lower emissions during testing but pollute far more in real-world driving – similar allegations to the crimes that VW officials confessed to in 2015. In May 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice sued FCA for alleged violations. The software changes that won FCA approval to sell 2017 diesel vehicles does not eliminate that lawsuit.
FCA officials say the software fixes for the emissions systems should have no effect on fuel economy or performance. They add that the company hopes to use a version of the fix to address concerns on 2014 to 2016 model-year diesels.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said, “We appreciate the efforts of the agencies in working with us to achieve this milestone. We are anxious to build on this progress to make appropriate updates to the emissions control software in our earlier model-year vehicles.” www.arb.ca.gov; www.epa.gov; www.fcanorthamerica.com; www.justice.gov; www.vw.com