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US gov’t accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating on emissions

TOM KRISHER and MICHAEL BIESECKER

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government accused Fiat Chrysler on Thursday of failing to disclose software in some of its pickups and SUVs with diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution than allowed under the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a “notice of violation” to the company that covers about 104,000 vehicles including the 2014 through 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram pickups, all with 3-liter diesel engines. The California Air Resources Board took similar action.

“Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle’s engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne denied any wrongdoing, saying the EPA was blowing the issue out of proportion.

“We have done in our view nothing that is illegal,” he said Thursday on a conference call. “We will defend our behavior in the right environment.”

If found liable, Fiat Chrysler could face more than $4.5 billion in potential fines for violations of the Clean Air Act.