Automotive

Parent Company of Dodge and Jeep Pleads Guilty to Diesel Emissions Fraud

The list of car manufacturers involved in the Dieselgate scandal seems to grow longer every year. Just recently, Dodge and Jeep parent company Stellantis pleaded guilty to charges of using cheat devices in their diesel vehicles sold in the United States. The US Department of Justice also accused the automotive giant of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and violating the Clean Air Act.

Vehicles that are affected by the scandal include models 2014 to 2016 Ram 1500 pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles. A total of over 100,000 vehicles were alleged to have been equipped with the defeat device.

At the time of the plea deal, both Dodge and Jeep were still part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). FCA facilitated that agreement with the Justice Department. FCA is now a part of Stellantis.

The agreement revealed that FCA US’ six-cylinder diesel engines were installed with cheat software designed to artificially reduce emissions to illegally pass regulations testing. When the vehicles were driven in real-world road conditions, however, their emissions were found to exceed legal limits. The carmaker did not disclose this detail to regulators. They also misled their customers to believe that their vehicles were clean and safe as advertised.

FCA actually entered into a settlement with the state of California and the Justice Department in January 2019. They agreed to diesel emissions civil claims equivalent to around $800 million or £652 million. However, that agreement did not see FCA admit any wrongdoing. The carmaker did agree to pay affected car owners around between $2,800 and £2,281 each, though.

Aside from paying the fine, Stellantis also committed to regularly submitting to the Justice Department Clean Air Act compliance reports in fulfilment of the requirements of their three-year probation period.

Commenting on Stellantis’ guilty plea, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Investigative Division’s assistant director Luis Quesada said regulations have to be set and followed to protect the well-being and health of the environment and the country’s citizens. He considers the FCA and Stellantis’ guilty plea a positive step towards their goal of bringing to justice car manufacturers involved in the fraudulent diesel emissions scandal.

This development is proof that despite the fact that the Dieselgate scandal first broke seven years ago in 2015, affected carmakers continue to spend – to this very day – a large part of their time, resources, and attention paying fines and emissions compensation while also facing class-action lawsuits.

What is the Dieselgate scandal?

The Dieselgate scandal broke in 2015 when US authorities discovered that Volkswagen installed defeat devices in their diesel vehicles sold across the country. Such devices are programmed to detect when a vehicle is in lab testing so they can automatically suppress emission levels to within the legal limits.

However, when the vehicles are brought out and driven in real-world road conditions, they revert to their default settings, emitting voluminous amounts of toxic gases in volumes that far exceed the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). In effect, VW lied to and misled their customers into believing that the vehicles they bought were safe and environment friendly. Their customers paid a premium on vehicles that were actually pollutants.

Aside from Volkswagen, other car manufacturers are also involved in the diesel emissions scandal. Mercedes-Benz owners in the US filed a class-action lawsuit against the German carmaker in relation to the alleged use of defeat devices in their diesel vehicles.

By 2018, Mercedes’ parent company Daimler was forced to recall over 770,000 vehicles throughout Europe after the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) found defeat devices installed in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Mercedes and Daimler, like FCA US and Stellantis, have had to deal with fines, compensation, and class-action lawsuits or group litigation cases over the years. They also had to recall thousands upon thousands of affected vehicles in the US, Europe, the UK, and other parts of the world.

Mercedes emissions claims

Aside from deceiving their customers, Mercedes and other carmakers using defeat devices also contribute toxic emissions that harm the environment and human health. Vehicles emit NOx or nitrogen oxide, which contains the gases NO or nitric oxide and NO2 or nitrogen dioxide. It is responsible for the formation of smog, ground-level ozone, and acid rain.

NOx also has negative health effects on human health, including:

  • Breathing problems
  • Lung issues
  • Asthma or aggravated asthma
  • Eye irritation
  • Headaches
  • Reduced lung function
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and dizziness

Extreme exposure to excessive levels of nitrogen oxide can result in laryngospasm, asphyxiation, severe or chronic lung damage, and premature death.

These dangerous effects, along with the mis-sold vehicles, are the reasons why affected car owners are encouraged to file a Mercedes emissions claim. This will give them the chance to get compensated for the premium price they paid for the affected vehicle and for the inconvenience that the defeat device has caused them (and the environment).

It can be a long and complicated process, so working with a panel of emission solicitors should be a priority. Choosing one that is regulated, committed, knowledgeable, and experienced in winning emissions claims means getting in touch with ClaimExperts.co.uk, so visit their website now and see if you are eligible to  start your claims process.

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