Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced a landmark $171 million settlement with 49 states, the District of Columbia and Guam with Fiat Chrysler and Robert Bosch for equipping, selling or leasing environmentally non-compliant vehicles. Oregon helped lead the investigation, and will receive $7.23 million of the settlement. Fiat Chrysler equipped certain trucks and SUVs with illegal emissions defeat device software. Bosch supplied and helped program the illegal emissions “defeat device” software used by both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen in their diesel vehicles. Attorney General Rosenblum worked on this settlement in coordination with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
“Fiat Chrysler promoted its EcoDiesel trucks and SUVs to eco-conscious consumers as ‘green’ and ‘clean’ vehicles. Such environmentally-friendly marketing hid the fact that the EcoDiesel engines couldn’t even meet minimum emissions standards. Oregonians care about our environment and my office will aggressively pursue companies that make false claims,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
The settlements require Fiat Chrysler to pay Oregon more than $3.8 million, including $1.4 million under Oregon consumer protection laws, and $2 million under Oregon environmental laws for equipping, offering, selling and leasing the environmentally non-compliant vehicles.
This settlement is the result of a two-year investigation led by the Attorneys General of Oregon, Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Washington. The settlement covers cars that had unlawful defeat device software or undisclosed Auxiliary Emissions Control Devices (“AECDs”) installed in 2,176 Model Year 2014-16 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles sold in Oregon. Chrysler misled consumers by falsely claiming the “EcoDiesel”-branded Jeep SUVs and Ram 1500 trucks were environmentally friendly and compliant with the law in all 50 states. Fiat Chrysler cheated federal and state emissions tests by calibrating the vehicles’ software to conceal that the vehicles emitted higher than permitted levels of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) in real-world driving conditions.
Oregon’s settlement prohibits Fiat Chrysler from engaging in future unfair or deceptive practices, and requires Fiat Chrysler to carry out its obligations under a series of related settlement agreements in the Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL Settlements”) pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The MDL Settlements, once approved by the MDL court, will resolve claims brought by a national class of affected consumers, the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Air Resources Board and the State of California. The MDL Settlements require Fiat Chrysler to: eliminate the defeat device features from the relevant software through a software “flash fix”; provide eligible consumers extended warranties; and, together with co-defendant Bosch, pay eligible owners who take their vehicle to an authorized dealer for the software repair an average restitution of approximately $2,908 and lessees and former owners who do so restitution of $990. They also require Fiat Chrysler to make available 200,000 upgraded catalytic converters to mitigate air pollution across the country when installed by Fiat Chrysler vehicle owners as replacements to their existing catalytic converters.
“Oregon DEQ strongly supports this settlement to hold Fiat Chrysler and Bosch accountable for violating Oregon’s vehicle emissions standards. Those violations are affecting the health of Oregonians, and we appreciate Attorney General Rosenblum’s leadership in securing this settlement, which sends a strong signal to deter future attempts to evade compliance with Oregon’s environmental laws,” said Richard Whitman, Director of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Bosch is known for its consumer products and is a major supplier to the global automotive industry. Among the products Bosch supplies to its auto manufacturing customers are the electronic control units (“ECUs”) that house the complex software that controls nearly all aspects of an engine’s performance, including emissions systems. When Volkswagen, a Bosch customer, was revealed to have systematically utilized defeat device software in its diesel vehicles, Attorney General Rosenblum, along with several state Attorneys General, investigated the role played by Bosch enabling its customers to potentially violate federal and state emissions regulations.
As a result of the investigation, the Attorneys General concluded that Bosch facilitated the implementation of the defeat device software in more than 600,000 Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles over a period that spanned more than a decade. Notwithstanding concerns about the illegal defeat devices raised internally, to management, and externally, to Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler, the Attorney General found that Bosch continued to assist these customers as they implemented the defeat devices and concealed their misconduct from regulators and the public.
The state’s settlement includes precedent-setting injunctive terms, requiring Bosch to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and to refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software. Under the terms of the settlement with the Oregon Attorney General, Bosch will pay Oregon more than $3.4 million to settle civil consumer and environmental claims.
Under a multistate agreement involving Oregon and 49 other jurisdictions – including Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam and all states other than California, Texas and West Virginia – Bosch will pay a total of $98.7 million resolving the jurisdictions’ consumer protection and environmental claims, and make a separate $5 million payment to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) for training and future enforcement purposes. Under the related MDL Settlements, Bosch will also pay approximately $27.5 million to consumers who purchased or leased the affected Fiat Chrysler vehicles. Bosch earlier paid more than $275 million to consumers who purchased or leased the affected Volkswagen vehicles.
Attorney General Rosenblum thanked Oregon Department of Justice Senior Assistant Attorney General Althea Cullen and Attorney-in-Charge Paul Garrahan for their assistance with this investigation.
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.