Auto News for Jan. 13 – Takata and the Expensive Settlement

  Numerous reports this morning say Takata has reached a $1 billion settlement with the Justice Department and will enter a guilty plea to criminal wrongdoing regarding its airbags.

 That would include $850 million to compensate automakers for their losses in massive recalls, in addition to $125 million in victim compensation and a $25 million criminal fine.

 Official word of the settlement is expected later today. First word of the agreement appeared in the Wall St. Journal.

 This after Toyota announced it will recall another 543,000 vehicles here in the U.S. due to defective front passenger air bag inflators. That would bring the total recall to more than 100-million globally, and 69-million here in the U.S.

 Ford recently added 816,000 vehicles to its Takata recall program.

 In case you missed it yesterday:

 Fiat Chrysler allegedly installed engine management software in roughly 104,000 diesel powered Jeeps and trucks that violated the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.

 It cited 2014, 2015 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0 liter diesel engines that it said had software that resulted in “increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the vehicles.

 Fiat Chrysler said it “believes that its emission control systems meet the applicable requirement” and plans to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve the matter.

  “Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”

 The announcement came shortly after Volkswagen reached a $4.3 billion dollar agreement with the government regarding its diesels that still must be approved by a federal judge.

 “Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle’s engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

 EPA said as part of the certification process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any software, known as auxiliary emission control devices that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution. FCA did not disclose the existence of certain auxiliary emission control devices to EPA in its applications for certificates of conformity for the named vehicles.

 “By failing to disclose this software and then selling vehicles that contained it, FCA violated important provisions of the Clean Air Act,” EPA said.

 Fiat Chrysler said it spent months providing “voluminous information” to the EPA and looks forward to proving that its emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus “are not defeat devices under applicable regulations…”

 Yet during testing, the EPA said the vehicles in question produced increased NOx emissions under conditions that would be encountered in normal operation and use. EPA said it has found at least eight undisclosed pieces of software that can alter how a vehicle emits air pollution.

 It add that FCA may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief.

 They are the hottest vehicles on the market right now, so why would some customers enter a dealer’s showroom and buy a car? A new J.D. Power survey said cost was one major factor with SUV’s generally selling for 9 percent more than a car. Improved gas mileage in a car was also a factor. Those who favored a new SUV did so for their increased cargo hauling, and a “feeling of safety when driving the vehicle.”









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