Fiat Chrysler has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle multiple lawsuits throughout the United States regarding its false reporting of diesel emissions, the US Department of Justice said Thursday.
The settlement, with US regulators and private party lawsuits, settles claims that the Italian-American company violated environmental and consumer protection laws by using “defeat device software” to circumvent emissions testing.
The company will pay a civil penalty of 305 million dollars, including 78.4 million dollars to the state of California.
A class action lawsuit will provide 300 million dollars in consumer compensation, the California Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
According to the auto maker the total cost, which includes class action lawsuits, environmental mitigation efforts, penalties to US authorities and extended car warranties, will total 800 million dollars.
The defeat software made it appear that nitrogen oxide emissions from the vehicles were within legal limits during emission testing, when in reality the emissions exceeded those limits.
Fiat Chrysler installed the software in more than 100,000 cars in the US market, the California attorney general’s office said Thursday. The affected vehicles are 2014-16 diesel Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500s that were advertised as meeting or exceeding California’s emissions rules.
The company has consistently denied any wrong-doing and makes no admission of guilt in the settlement.
On Friday Fiat Chrysler reiterated their stance that they did not engage in any “deliberate scheme” to cheat emissions tests.
The Justice Department said, however, that the settlement “does not resolve any potential criminal liability.”
“Fiat Chrysler deceived consumers and the federal government by installing defeat devices on these vehicles that undermined important clean air protections,” said Andrew Wheeler, the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Today’s settlement sends a clear and strong signal to manufacturers and consumers that EPA will vigorously enforce the nation’s laws designed to protect the environment and public health,” Wheeler added.
“We acknowledge that this has created uncertainty for our customers, and we believe this resolution will maintain their trust in us,” Mark Chernoby, head of safety and regulatory compliance for Fiat Chrysler’s North American division, said.
German auto parts manufacturer Bosch also agreed to pay 98 million dollars to various US states and 27.5 million to consumers .
The settlement comes more than three years after defeat devices were discovered in millions of Volkswagen cars, a scandal that has cost the German carmaker 25 billion dollars.