What’s worse than being told that your vehicle needs crucial repairs? It’s being told you cannot get them immediately or possibly even in time to renew its registration. The complaint for this class action alleges that that’s the position in which Fiat Chrysler (FCA US, LLC and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, its parent company) has left many consumers, because of emissions problems with certain of its vehicles.
The Nationwide Class for this action is all persons or entities in the US, its territories, and the District of Columbia who bought or leased one of the vehicles in question. There are also Michigan and New Jersey Classes.
The vehicles in question are the following front-wheel drive (FWD) and continuously-variable transmission (CVT) vehicles:
How did this come about? On March 13, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that these vehicles needed changes to their emissions systems and that “recall will be implemented in phases during the 2019 calendar year beginning with the oldest vehicles first.”
The EPA noted that owners may need to have the repair performed before their yearly inspection. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) did not mince words: Consumers “who fail to get the necessary repairs will not be able to register their vehicles.” This will also present problems for owners who want to sell the vehicles before they have the repairs.
Why are the repairs taking so long? The complaint says they require “a replacement of Class Vehicles’ catalytic converter and changes to the power train module.” Catalytic converters are made in part of precious metals, including palladium. There is currently a shortage of palladium, meaning that the parts needed are in limited supply.
According to the complaint, “FCA has still said nothing to the vast majority of its own consumers…”
The recall involves over 800,000 gasoline-powered vehicles. According to CARB, the vehicles “emit NOx above the regulatory limits” and that “NOx emission in California are the most important contributor to ambient ozone and a key contributor to fine particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5) which is associated with premature death, asthma emergency room visits, increased hospitalizations due to exacerbation of chronic heart and lung diseases, and other serious health impacts.”
This problem comes after an incident two years ago when certain of FC’s “EcoDiesel” Ram and Jeep vehicles were recalled for excess emissions of NOx. The company only settled that class action suit in January 2019, two months before the EPA’s announcement of these further emissions problems. The company was also fined $77 million in civil penalties because its 2016 US-assembled passenger cars did not meet fuel economy standards.
The complaint alleges breaches of warranties and violations of state consumer protection laws.