Fiat named in class action over use of defeat devices to falsify fuel efficiency, performance, and emissions statistics

The complaint alleges that Fiat intentionally installed of so-called defeat devices on an estimated 104,000 diesel Dodge and Jeep vehicles sold in the United States since 2014 (“Defeat Device Vehicles”). Defendants marketed those vehicles as environmentally friendly vehicles that possessed better fuel efficiency, better performance, and lower emissions. Although Defendants successfully marketed these expensive cars as “clean,” their environmentally-friendly representations were a sham. Defendants did not actually make cars with those desirable and advertised attributes.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), Defendants installed their “defeat device” in at least their 3.0-liter EcoDiesel-powered 2014-2016 Dodge RAM 1500 pickup trucks and 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles.

Instead of delivering on their promise of superior fuel economy coupled with low emissions, Defendants devised a way to make it appear that their cars did what they said they would when, in fact, they did not.

The defeat devices Defendants designed and installed work by switching on the full emissions control systems in Defendants’ cars only when the car is undergoing periodic emissions testing. The technology needed to control emissions from Defendants’ cars to meet state and federal emissions regulations, reduces their performance, limiting acceleration, torque, and fuel efficiency.

To hide this, the defeat device simply shuts off most of the emissions control systems in the car once the car has completed its emissions test. While that might have made the car more fun to drive, it resulted in Defendants’ cars sending excess NOx emissions into the environment than is allowed under the Clean Air Act and state regulations.