TRENTON – On Friday, January 11, 2019 Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced that New Jersey will receive approximately $5.3 million as part of multi-state settlements entered into with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Robert Bosch, which centered on allegations the two companies violated both consumer and environmental protection laws.
Specifically, the settlement with Fiat Chrysler resolves allegations related to the equipping of two model year 2014-2016 Fiat Chrysler vehicles with an electronic emission control “defeat device.” The defeat devices enabled the vehicles – the Ram 1500 diesel pick-up and the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel – to pass regulatory emissions testing, but release unlawful amounts of harmful emissions when driven day-to-day. Nearly 1,500 of the vehicles were sold or leased in New Jersey, and nearly 1,300 of those were registered in the state.
The settlement with Robert Bosch resolves claims against the company for its role in the marketing, development and sale of defeat devices involving both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen diesel vehicles.
“In an effort to boost its vehicle sales, Fiat Chrysler deceived New Jersey consumers and put our air quality– and the health of New Jersey residents – at risk,” said Attorney General Grewal.
“That’s exactly what our consumer fraud and environmental laws are designed to prevent, and so we’re holding Fiat and Bosch accountable,” Attorney General Grewal said. “Automakers – and any other businesses for that matter – have a duty to be honest about the products they market, and to ensure that those products comply with the law. When companies ignore that responsibility, we will take action.”
“Motor vehicle emissions are still New Jersey’s top contributor to greenhouse gases in the state, which is what makes this attempt to evade environmental laws so egregious,” said Commissioner McCabe. “No matter if it is done by a manufacturer or an individual, tampering with any emissions control device on a vehicle threatens the health of New Jersey’s residents, contributes to global warming and is against the law.”
“Consumers value cars that will get them where they are going without spewing pollution along the way,” said New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez. “When manufacturers secretly build their vehicles to evade emissions control devices, they not only harm our environment, but deceive consumers who place a premium on cleaner cars. We vigorously enforce our consumer protection laws to prevent this from happening and to punish companies that cheat.”
The Fiat Chrysler and Robert Bosch settlements resolve a nearly-two-year multi-state investigation related to the development, engineering, distribution, marketing and promotion of the 2014-2016 diesel Ram 1500 pick-up and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The multi-state group also investigated Robert Bosch, supplier of the electronic emissions control software used in those vehicles. Robert Bosch supplied the same software to Volkswagen, which settled with the State of New Jersey in 2017.
In a stand-alone lawsuit, New Jersey had sued Volkswagen alleging that it violated the State’s clean air statutes and defrauded consumers by selling diesel vehicles equipped with the Bosch-manufactured “defeat” software.
The multi-state investigation of Fiat Chrysler and Robert Bosch found that the alleged development and use of the emissions control defeat device resulted in unlawful and dangerous quantities of air pollutants – most notably nitrogen oxides or NOx – into the air during everyday vehicle use. NOx has been linked to a variety of health concerns, including multiple respiratory diseases.
Under the settlement announced today, Fiat Chrysler will pay a total of $72.5 million to 49 states to resolve consumer and environmental protection claims. A total of $1.94 million will be paid to the State of New Jersey.
Robert Bosch, a multi-national engineering company, was found through the multi-state investigation to have allegedly assisted with the implementation of emission control defeat software in an estimated 600,000 Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen vehicles over a more-than-10-year span. Nearly 19,000 such vehicles were sold or leased in New Jersey.
Under the settlement terms, Robert Bosch will pay New Jersey and 49 other jurisdictions a total of $98.7 million under the jurisdictions’ consumer and environmental protection claims. The company will pay New Jersey $3.39 million.
Fiat Chrysler is also required under the settlement to:
- Eliminate the defeat device features from the relevant software through use of a software “flash fix.”
- Join with co-defendant Bosch in paying eligible owners who take their vehicle to an authorized dealer for software repair an average of $2,908 in restitution. (Lessees and former owners are eligible for approximately $990 in restitution)
- Provide eligible owners and lessees with extended warranties.
Bosch is required under the settlement terms to, among other things, maintain robust product compliance monitoring and refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of emissions control defeat devices.