Ram and Jeep fans looking to get into a new 1500 or Grand Cherokee with the highest possible fuel economy picked the wrong year to embark on their search. While owners of 2014-2016 Ram and Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models wonder whether their vehicles are pollutingÂ as the EPA claims, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2017 EcoDiesels languish in legal limbo.
At first, the Environmental Protection Agency held up the certification of 2017 models as it slogged through a backlog of extra-stringent testing prompted by Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Then, in January, FCA’s hopes of getting 2017 EcoDiesels to dealers hit a brick wall. The automaker was accused of violating environmental regulations after the EPA discovered unannounced emissions control devices on the modelsÂ â€” raising concerns of a possible VW-type defeat device scheme.
Then came a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. So, when can diesel fans get their hands on a light-duty FCA oil burner? It could be a while.
In a court hearing Wednesday, a DOJ lawyer claimed the process of examining FCA’s proposed emissions fix could take “weeks or months.” The automaker filed another application for certification in May, just a few days before the DOJ lawsuit. In it, FCA detailed changes to emissions software it said would bring the vehicles into compliance, anticipating no impact on fuel economy or performance.
Both the EPA and California Air Resources Board would need to test vehicles equipped with the updated emissions control system before greenlighting an emissions certificate. Once that occurs, the same fix would be offered to owners of some 104,000 older models.
According to Reuters (via Automotive News), FCA has held six meetings or phone calls with regulators in the past three weeks.
While the company waits for bill of health from the EPA (and hopes to avoid billions in fines), there’s more bad PR to worry about. West Virginia University, the institution that discovered Volkswagen’s emissions cheating, plans to release a study on the 3.0-liter diesel models’ real-world emissions. After reviewing the study, The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the models emit between eight to 25 times the legal amount of smog-producing emissions.
FCA quickly denied the claims, questioning the university’s testing procedureÂ â€” and motivations.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]