Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has been referred for possible prosecution by investigators in France over the unusual emissions of NOx pollutants from some of its diesel engines.
This makes FCA the third manufacturer to be referred to French prosecutors after Volkswagen and Renault.
The French findings published last July showed that FCA’s Jeep Cherokee emitted eight times the EU NOx emissions limit, in conditions very slightly modified from the official regulatory lab test. Moreover, the Fiat 500X emitted almost 17 times the limit in real road testing.
FCA has already provided French authorities with information that showed the French tests did not match those undertaken by the Italian ministry of transport or those of the carmaker itself. An FCA spokesman said the company had misgivings about the tests. They were carried out on just a a single vehicle and were carried out by methodologies that did not match exactly the current regulations.
On Tuesday, an FCA spokesperson responded by saying that its diesel vehicles fully complied with emissions requirements and claimed it had not yet been briefed on the facts behind the allegations in France and looked forward to the opportunity to respond.
A statement from the finance and industry ministry said a case file against the carmaker had been handed to prosecutors. Meanwhile, investigations into other car brands continue. The referral follows testing undertaken by French regulators last year on numerous different carmakers.
These events follow the US Environmental Protection Agency accusing FCA last month of using hidden software to allow excessive diesel emissions to go undetected – in a similar manner to disgraced Volkswagen – which could lead to it facing fine of up to $4.8 billion (€4.5 billion). FCA chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne angrily rejected the allegations.
Bitter tensions also continue between Italy and Germany under the mediation of the European Commission over FCA emissions, after Germany alleged the Fiat 500X, Fiat Doblo and Jeep Renegade were equipped with illegal emissions-cheating software. FCA also repudiated these allegations. There have been suggestions the vehicles are simply technologically deficient rather than overtly breaking the law deliberately like Volkswagen.
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