A Scandal For Stellantis: How Diesel Emissions Cost $300 Million

In the U.S., the term diesel emissions evoke a shudder. After the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, drivers see diesel as a dirty option for anything other than trucks. Because of that, manufacturers understand that offering diesel models can be quite a catch-22. Manufacturers want to provide diesel models for shoppers who want some tremendous low-end grunt. Stellantis is like other automakers and aims to offer a few diesel models, but that bit them in the butt after finding themselves on the wrong side of a federal investigation. That investigation has now concluded, and Stellantis has pleaded guilty. More importantly, they are responsible for paying more than $300 million in penalties.

What was the basis of this scandal?

Now, you may be wondering, why is Stellantis on the hook for paying $300 million? Stellantis was the subject of an exhaustive federal investigation regarding the diesel emissions for a few models. The investigation was focused on Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 models from 2014-to 2016 that used the EcoDiesel engine.

During this investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice found that Stellantic deliberately calibrated the emissions systems to produce fewer emissions during the EPA testing procedure. More emissions are created when a driver drives the same truck or SUV. As a result of this finding, Stellantis was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud, and violate the Clean Air Act.

In addition to the charges, the investigation found that Stellantis was knowingly tampering with the software and systems for many years. This plan was a part of a larger goal to mislead regulation and, in turn, consumers as well.

Why does diesel emissions testing matter?

a white 2016 jeep grand cherokee, one of the models affected by the diesel emission investigation
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee; One Model Effected By the Scandal | Stellantis

There have been a few scandals surrounding diesel emissions, and it often revolves around an automaker searching for higher EPA ratings. But, by tampering with the systems in your car, you could be producing much more pollutants. Diesel fuel makes a high level are harmful emissions. Those pollutants can affect the ozone layer and particulate matter, affecting the climate as a whole.

Because of those emissions, the EPA has created a strict set of standards for diesel models to abide by to be available for sale. In particular, modern diesel models need to utilize Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, a much cleaner diesel, and use advanced exhaust emission systems to reduce emissions significantly.

Where does Stellantis go from here?

a 2016 ram 1500 which was one of the trucks affected by diesel emission investigation
2016 Ram 1500 Equipped with EcoDiesel Engine | Stellantis

With Stellantis pleading guilty and the trial results now available, Stellantis needs to pay $301 million. That amount includes a fine of $96.1 million, and the company needs to forfeit $203.6 million in total gains from models affected. 

Aside from being out of a boatload of money, Stellantis is also responsible for cooperating with the government in future investigations. Finally, Stellantis will be on probation for the next three years. Furthermore, according to Automotive News, Stellantis will need to be mindful of the operations concerning the diesel systems in their cars. 

RELATED: Acura Will Move Away From Gas Engines In Favor Of EVs