FCA and Cummins in court07-Mar-2018
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and engine supplier Cummins
are the latest companies to be accused of hiding excess diesel-exhaust emissions.
A class-action lawsuit filed against the two companies accuses them of conspiring to conceal illegally-high levels of emissions in Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel pickup trucks manufactured between 2007 and 2012.
These trucks are heavy-duty models equipped with 6.7-litre Cummins engines, not the light-duty Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which was introduced in 2014 and uses a 3.0-litre engine from Fiat subsidiary VM Motori. (Incidentally, that V6 diesel option has been discontinued, in favour of a V6 petrol hybrid powertrain.)
The lawsuit alleges that FCA predecessor Chrysler Group LLC and Cummins hid the fact that emissions-control devices couldn't lower emissions to legal levels.
The Cummins engines involved in the suit primarily used two devices to lower nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions: a diesel-particulate filter and a NOx absorption catalyst system (NAC).
An NAC system's catalyst is supposed to absorb NOx and break it down into less-harmful substances, while particulate filters capture particulate matter that is a byproduct of combustion in diesel engines and can be harmful to humans if inhaled.
The suit alleges that catalysts in the affected trucks were not robust enough to handle the emissions produced by the Cummins engines. This meant that trucks produced emissions in excess of legal limits, according to the lawsuit.
In addition, the lawsuit claims injection of fuel to regenerate the particulate filter occurs with "excessive frequency," which could lead to higher fuel consumption and emissions.
Faults with emission-control equipment have also caused exhaust-system components to wear out prematurely, requiring replacement at an average cost of $3000 to $5000, according to attorneys.
The suit was filed by Seattle law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which was involved with the Volkswagen 2.0-litre diesel settlement, and has also filed
a suit against General Motors for alleged emissions cheating on Chevrolet Cruze Diesel models.
Attorneys seek reimbursement and damages for as many as 500,000 truck owners.