The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 has been operating under a dark cloud since at least last fall, when the EPA began looking into emissions issues linked to software devices installed in the trucks.
Now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is facing a potential fine which could equal a third of FCA's total market value -- $4.62 billion.
The EPA and the California Air Resources Board late last week served FCA with notices of violation. Both agencies claim the auto-maker failed to disclose software that changes the way the emissions system operates. The software, which could have been deemed permissible if it had been disclosed, is in the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine -- available in 2014-16 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram 1500 pickups.
The emissions control software in both vehicles contains at least eight illegal auxiliary emissions control devices, or AECDs, the EPA and CARB charge.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne forcefully denied that the automaker's engineers intentionally installed the AECDs to skirt emissions laws. "Our conscience is completely clear. There is no malfeasance inside of Chrysler," he told CNBC.
The EPA says 103,828 diesel-powered Jeeps and Ram pickups are affected. No 2017 model-year diesel-powered Grand Cherokee or Rams for the U.S. market have been built, according to sources at both plants, as the EPA has not certified the engine.