Automotive giant Stellantis pleads guilty to diesel emissions fraud

The company will pay $300 million in penalties to settle a Justice Department probe.

Gonzalo Fuentes / reuters

As expected, Stellantis, the parent company of Dodge and Jeep, has pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy charges related to its efforts to conceal the amount of pollution produced by its diesel engines. The world’s fifth-largest automaker agreed this week to pay $300 million in penalties to end a multi-year investigation by the US Justice Department, Reuters reported on Friday.

Federal prosecutors accused Stellantis of violating the Clean Air Act, alleging the automaker attempted to deceive US regulators by selling vehicles it knew did not meet national emissions standards. The Justice Department said Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which merged with Peugeot parent company PSA to form Stellantis in 2021, installed illegal software designed to cheat government emissions tests.

According to the agency, the company “purposely” programmed its cars to produce fewer emissions during testing than under normal circumstances. The settlement covers approximately 100,000 vehicles sold in the US between 2014 and 2016, including SUVs and pickup trucks produced by the automaker for its Jeep and Ram brands.

In addition to paying a fine, Stellantis has agreed to submit Clean Air Act compliance reports to the Justice Department as part of a three-year probation period. Additionally, three Stellantis employees are awaiting trial for criminal charges related to the case. The deal comes five years after Volkswagen famously pleaded guilty to its own emissions scandal. “Dieselgate” saw the German automaker eventually pay more than $20 billion in fines and legal settlements.

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