Fiat Chrysler To Pay Over $650 Million To Settle Emissions Cheating Case: Report

The federal investigation into Fiat Chrysler followed the vast diesel emissions-cheating scandal that rocked Volkswagen. But United States officials viewed the Fiat Chrysler matter as much less serious, and stopped short of accusing the company of intentionally engineering the software to cheat on emissions tests.

Volkswagen acknowledged that it had used “defeat device” software to cheat on emissions tests, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and other charges brought by the Justice Department. The company agreed to pay $22 billion in settlements and fines, including $4.3 billion to settle a case brought by the Justice Department. It also was required to buy back 600,000 diesel vehicles from American consumers. Two Volkswagen executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the United States.

In Germany, the scandal resulted in the ouster of Volkswagen’s chief executive, his successor and some two dozen other executives. The former chief executive of Volkswagen’s Audi division was arrested last year and is awaiting trial on criminal charges.

Diesel engines were once seen as a key part of automakers’ strategies for increasing fuel economy and lowering emissions of greenhouse gases. But the Volkswagen scandal and diesel-emissions investigations against other companies have all but extinguished interest and demand for diesel cars and S.U.V.s. Diesel remains a popular choice for heavy-duty pickups and larger trucks.

In place of diesel cars, automakers are scrambling to develop a variety of battery-powered vehicles. Last year, Ford Motor said it planned to spend $11 billion in a bid to introduce 16 battery-powered vehicles and 24 hybrids by 2022. Audi and Mercedes-Benz plan to add new electric models this year. Both companies had previously been big promoters of “clean diesel” technology.

Volkswagen was once one of the largest sellers of diesel cars in the United States market, and had built a loyal following for the diesel versions of the Jetta and the Beetle. But sales plunged after the diesel cheating scandal. As part of a bid to win back customers, the company plans to introduce an electric S.U.V. in 2020, followed by an electric hatchback and possibly an electric minivan.

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