Diesel engines have had a rough go of things over the last couple of years. First there was the Volkswagen Auto Group scandal, colloquially known as ‘Dieselgate’, in which VW was caught cheating on emissions tests in a number of VW and Audi vehicles. What is even more surprising, is how much the VW scandal killed diesel cars in the US market. We thought that trucks would probably be fine regardless. Unfortunately, that may change a bit as well, as Dodge/Ram and Cummins are named as the next two companies to be targeted by a class-action emissions law suit.
The VW scandal essentially boiled down to this: VW implemented a system in their vehicles where the ECU could detect that it was hooked up to an emissions testing machine. When the vehicle made this connection, it would adjust the engine tune to produce fewer and cleaner emissions. Then, when the vehicle sensed it was no longer being tested, it would shift the tune to favor more power and efficiency rather than clean emissions. FCA and Cummins have done something similar, choosing to ignore that their exhaust system currently ‘leaks’ some exhaust gas into the atmosphere. According to the lawsuit, this ‘leak’ can cause emissions up to 14 times higher than the expected amount.
According to this article from Bloomberg,
“Chrysler and its diesel technology partner Cummins Inc. hid from consumers that pollutants that were supposed to have been broken down inside the diesel engines instead had a tendency to escape, almost doubling the emissions and reducing the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, according to the lawsuit.”
Essentially, around 500,000 Dodge/Ram owners are accusing FCA and Cummins of fraud, false advertising and racketeering, with affected vehicles ranging from models as early as 2007 to 2012. What exactly does this mean for the automotive giant? Given that the scandal started before the merger with Fiat in 2010, FCA has said that they will contest the lawsuit “vigorously”.
Does this mean that diesel trucks will see a decline in the US as well? Possibly, but most manufacturers have been fine about compliance, and the advantages that a diesel engine provides may be too good to pass up, regardless of emissions standards. I think diesel trucks will be fine, but it should be interesting to see how this plays out. Be sure to stay tuned for more information regarding this class-action suit.
To see how diesel trucks compare to their gasoline powered counterparts, and to see the pros & cons of each option, be sure to watch the video below: