Another air pollution scandal: Fiat Chrysler settles with California for $500 million

News Fiat Chrysler to pay around $650M in emissions cheating case By MICHAEL BALSAMO and

The Department of Justice is expected to announce a major settlement with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday, resolving allegations that the automaker used illegal software to circumvent laboratory emissions inspections on 100,000 diesel vehicles, according to a source briefed on the matter.

The Italian-American automaker will be required to pay around $311 million in fines to the federal government and California regulators, according to the person, who wasn't authorized to discuss the settlement publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The remaining $400 million covers a software update and payments to current and former vehicle owners in amounts that average $2800 per person.

Under the terms of the settlement, FCA will recall and fix more than 100,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the United States.

FCA has agreed to pay almost $400 million in civil penalties, including $305 million to the EPA, the Department of Justice, and CARB; $6 million to Customs and Border Protection; and $72.5 million to various state attorneys general.

Fiat Chrysler will not admit wrongdoing as part of the civil settlement. If Fiat Chrysler doesn't get at least 85% of the vehicles brought in for repairs, it will face additional fines.

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"This settlement is a direct result of the enhanced screening and testing procedures CARB developed to uncover the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal", said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the air board, in a prepared statement. The company will also need to pay about $280 million to compensate owners. He said not only did Fiat Chrysler break the law but that it worked to hide its conduct.

The Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler in May 2017, accusing the company of using so-called defeat devices to mask pollution levels of its vehicles so they would pass government tests.

"Today's settlement sends a clear and strong signal to manufacturers and consumers that the Trump administration will vigorously enforce the nation's laws created to protect the environment and public health", said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

US officials refrained from accusing the auto manufacturer of intentionally creating software to cheat on emissions tests. Asked about the criminal case on Tuesday, Fiat Chrysler said it wouldn't comment on speculation.

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