Volkswagen may soon have company in the courtroom: Ram and Dodge Ram owners are suing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, claiming that nearly 500,000 of the company's diesel trucks fail to meet emissions standards.
The lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler and its diesel partner, Cummins, was filed this week in Detroit federal court. According to plaintiffs, the companies hid the fact that their diesel engines were designed to emit up to 14 times the legal level of nitrogen oxide.
The issue allegedly affects Dodge Ram trucks built between model years 2007 and 2012. At the time, Cummins and FCA had built new, heavy-duty diesel engines to comply with stricter EPA regulations, which were to be enforced in 2010. Those new engines began rolling out in 2007--three years ahead of schedule--but plaintiffs say that the engines were poorly designed. As a result, they fail to capture excess pollutants, which then leak into the atmosphere.
Moreover, the suit claims that the engine leaks cause the trucks' fuel efficiency to suffer, with mileage stats measuring up to four percent lower than advertised. They also cause the trucks' catalytic converters to wear out prematurely.
Fiat Chrysler is in the process of reviewing the lawsuit and hasn't responded to the specifics of it. However, it believes that the plaintiffs' claims lack merit.
Cummins has said that it's "deeply disappointed" by the suit and that it will "vigorously defend" itself in court.
For what it's worth, the plaintiffs are being represented by Steve Berman of Hagens Berman law firm--the same Hagens Berman that has handled class-action suits from owners of General Motors vehicles affected by Switchgate; from dealerships frustrated with Volkswagen; and from Mercedes-Benz owners who say that their BlueTEC vehicles are equipped with defeat devices.
We're not lawyers, so we're not about to comment on the merits of the case. It's interesting to note, however, that neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the Justice Department have launched any investigation into the matter...yet.