Lawsuits, in the pipeline, will come into play depending on the outcome of ongoing negotiations between the DoJ and FCA.
Two sources familiar with the matter at hand have revealed that the U.S. Justice Department plans on filing a civil lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV for releasing excess diesel emissions beyond lawful limits.
If the negotiations between the Justice Department and Italian-American auto manufacturer don’t end amicably, the matter will be taken up in court.
Earlier in January, the U.S. EPA had accused the company of using an undisclosed software in 104,000 of its cars and SUVs which has resulted in excess diesel emissions beyond of what is permissible by law.
California’s Air Resource Board and the EPA have been in talks with FCA on their excess emissions. As a result, the sale of FCA’s 2017 diesel models, hang in the balance.
A federal judge in California has set May 24 as the date of the hearing on a series of lawsuits filed by owners of vehicles against Fiat Chrysler.
The Justice Department is expected to file its own legal action if no agreement is reached with the company.
Clearly on the defensive, the FCA issued a statement on Wednesday saying it believes that any litigation would be “counterproductive” to ongoing discussions with the EPA and California Air Resources Board.
FCA’s statement also states, “in the case of any litigation, FCA US will defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the company deliberately installed defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests.”
Although the Justice Department took the same procedural step in early 2016 against European carmaker Volkswagen, it has forced to pay $25 billion in the U.S. to mitigate some of the issues in lawsuits.
In contrast the EPA stated, FCA will have to pay a maximum fine of $4.6 billion.
The European Commission has launched legal action against Italy for failing to respond to allegations of emission-test cheating by Fiat Chrysler in a procedure that could lead to the country being taken to court.
According to U.S. regulators, FCA failed to disclose engine management software in 104,000 U.S. 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-liter diesel engines.
Earlier this year in February, the FCA had said it had received requests for information and subpoenas from U.S. federal and state authorities, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, for diesel issues.