NEW YORK / WASHINGTON – The U.S. business of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to pay about $ 300 million in fines for criminal conduct and to solve a years-long investigation into emissions fraud involving vehicles with diesel engines, insiders say.
FCA US LLC, now part of Stellantis NV, has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy arising out of an attempt to circumvent the emission requirements of more than 100,000 old Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Sport-utility vehicles on its US lineup, people say.
The plea deal, which was negotiated with U.S. Justice Department officials, will be unveiled next week, although the timing may be slippery. The company will then enter its guilty plea during the next hearing in a U.S. district court.
Damaged diesel-powered vehicle models range from 2014 to 2016. FCA merged with French Peugeot maker PSA in 2021 to form Stalantis.
Stalantis and the Justice Department declined to comment.
The plea deal comes five years after Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to a criminal charge for resolving its own emissions crisis that affected nearly 600,000 vehicles in a scandal known as “Dieselgate”.
Volkswagen’s fraud led to additional scrutiny, with officials on both sides of the Atlantic cracking down on automakers for allegedly using illegal software known as defeat devices to evade official exit tests.
European automakers rely on so-called clean diesel technology to make vehicles that can comply with strict environmental regulations only for officials that they are polluting the roads more than certified tests for sale. Automakers are now pushing for battery-powered electric vehicles.
Negotiations between FCA lawyers and U.S. officials have dragged on for years and throughout the presidential administration to resolve the current investigation because both sides have been arguing over whether the company would be found guilty and, if it did, the exact details of any criminal charges, one person said. Says
An FCA employee is preparing to face trial for allegedly misleading regulators about pollution from vehicles targeted in the investigation. Last year, the judiciary filed charges against two additional FCA employees for alleged emissions fraud.
An allegation has been made that employees conspired to install defeat devices in vehicles so that they could evade official emission tests and then pollute the roads beyond legal limits.
The FCA had earlier resolved the concerned citizen complaint when it denied it and tried to defraud the emissions test.