Report: European Authorities Raid FCA Offices Over Alleged Diesel Emissions Defeat Devices

It's unclear what penalties FCA may face from this latest probe

European Authorities Raid FCA Offices Over Alleged Diesel Emissions Defeat Devices
After paying an $800 settlement to deal with alleged emissions fraud in the U.S., Fiat Chrysler’s diesel woes continue in Europe. [Photo: FCA]

According to a new BBC report, German, Italian and Swiss authorities raided Fiat Chrysler offices as well as that of truck manufacturer CNH Industrial Wednesday. This latest probe came about over claims that the companies’ diesel engines put out illegal levels of emissions. Specifically, FCA is under scrutiny for engines under its Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands. CNH Industrial, for its part, was raided for allegations connected to its Iveco brand trucks.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and CNH Industrial are both controlled by a larger company called Exor. That is a holding company under the Italian Agnetti family.

The raids were carried out across three offices in Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, as well as three offices in the Italian Piedmont region and one office in the Swiss canton of Thurgau. Led by German prosecutors, the probe alleges some 200,000 vehicles contained defeat devices in their engine management software. Eurojust, an EU agency devoted to coordinated criminal investigations across member states, said that “Defeat devices are illegal according to European Union regulations in place. Vehicles with defeat devices are not approved for road use in the EU and consumers with such devices installed in their cars face possible driving bans.”

Eurojust also ordered two companies in London to turn over documents related to emissions fraud. However, the agency did not name which companies it was looking at. They further said the probe is looking into a “number of people” who were involved in allegedly using these defeat devices.

For their part, FCA and CNH Industrial acknowledged authorities turned up at their offices. What’s more, both say they are fully cooperating with those authorities.

European Authorities Raid FCA Offices Over Alleged Diesel Emissions Defeat Devices
The 2014 – 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel was under scrutiny for defeat devices here in the U.S. [Photo: FCA]

Eighteen months after FCA settles its U.S. emissions case

The news of these raids comes more than a year after Fiat Chrysler settled its emissions cheating case here in the United States. Federal investigations concluded the company fit 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel engines with defeat devices. That allowed them to run at higher emissions levels under normal driving, but report lower pollution levels when undergoing state-mandated testing.

FCA settled that case for $800 million without acknowledging any wrongdoing.

European raids also highlight the state of ongoing diesel emissions scandals across multiple automakers, after Volkswagen brought the issue to light as part of its “Dieselgate” investigations and subsequent criminal liabilities. In the first three years, VW paid over $25 billion in fines and compensation to owners for its diesel problems, though its unclear whether the raids on FCA offices will lead to further civil or criminal penalties for the automaker.