Fiat Chrysler denies accusations of emissions cheat device

by Phill Tromans, Autocar UK 24 Oct 2016


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has denied accusations that the company employed a cheat device to manipulate emissions tests.

Harald Wester, FCA’s chief technical officer, defended the firm against claims from German authorities that a diesel Fiat 500X used unauthorised software during emissions testing. The accusations were made in May this year by the Federal Motor Transport Authority, which stated that the car’s engine management software switched off its exhaust treatment systems after 22 minutes, thus allowing it to pass Germany’s standard type approval test, which takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Wester said he won’t comment on the details as the matter is subject to mediation and litigation. However at a meeting of a European Parliament inquiry committee into emission measurements in the car industry, known as EMIS, he added: “The 500X meets the relevant Euro 6 limit in the regulatory NEDC test and does not detect that it is being tested. Contrary to allegations, 500X does not deactivate its emission control system…but uses control strategies which modulate the emissions control system solely to protect the integrity of the engine and the safety of the vehicle occupants in accordance with applicable regulations.”

However, EMIS members asked for more details and challenged Wester on technical and legal definitions around his justification of such a modulation system.

Wester was also questioned about French tests that showed emissions up to 15 times greater than those claimed. He said he would need more data about test conditions to explain this.

The parliamentary enquiry was set up in the wake of the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal and has been hearing from academic institutes, trade associations and non-governmental organisations since March.

Italian authorities have backed FCA against the German accusations and the European Commission is mediating between them.

Meanwhile, Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, wrote to the EU on October 13 to reaffirm his government’s view that FCA used an unauthorised switch-off device, according to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.