A 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee is pictured in this media handout photo. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accused Fiat Chrysler, which manufctured the vehicle, of installing software in some 104,000 diesel trucks meant to hide illegal emissions. File Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said Fiat Chrysler rigged more than 104,000 Jeep and Dodge trucks with software to cheat federal emissions tests.
The allegations harken back to the Volkswagen emissions scandal that affected some 600,000 U.S. vehicles that were imported by the German automaker. The VW vehicles were rigged with software allowing it to show lower pollution emissions than the vehicles actually released into the air.
The EPA said Fiat Chrysler-made Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram pickups in model years 2014 to 2016 with a 3-liter diesel engine contain software that was not reported to federal regulators that allows the vehicles to appear to be letting off less exhaust than they actually are.
The company did not immediately respond to the EPA's allegations.
The emissions scandal that enveloped Volkswagen has cost the company billions in penalties, the cost of recalling or buying back defective vehicles and slumping sales after the damage to the company's reputation. Six company executives have been indicted with federal crimes, including violating the Clean Air Act.
Though the number of vehicles in question is lower for Fiat Chrysler than Volkswagen and officials stopped short of accusing the company of installing the "defeat devices" at the heart of the Volkswagen scandal, EPA assistant administrator Cynthia Giles said the intent was the same.
"There is no doubt that they are contributing to illegal pollution," she said.
"We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices. All automakers must play by the same rules, and we will continue to hold companies accountable that gain an unfair and illegal competitive advantage," she added.
California, which has stricter emissions standards than the federal government, has opened its own investigation into Fiat Chrysler, as well.