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U.S. Business U.S. judge approves Fiat Chrysler diesel emissions settlement

A federal judge in San Francisco on Friday approved a $307.5-million civil settlement for about 100,000 U.S. owners of Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles that the government said had illegal software that allowed them to emit excess emissions.

Under the settlement approved by Judge Edward Chen, about 100,000 owners and lessees of Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0-litre diesel vehicles from model years 2014 to 2016 will receive payments for having a software reflash completed. Most owners will receive $3,075 payments.

Current owners and leaseholders have until February 2021 to submit a claim, and until May 2021 to complete the repair and receive compensation, while former owners have until August to submit a claim.

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The Italian-American automaker on Jan. 10 announced it had settled with the U.S. Justice Department, the state of California and diesel owners over civil claims that it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

Chen also approved the consent decrees announced in January between Fiat Chrysler and California, Environmental Protection Agency and agreements with all 50 states.

Under the agreement, Fiat Chrysler agreed to apprise an independent auditor of the status of various initiatives. Fiat Chrysler said on Friday it has launched three-quarters of the initiatives and one-third are already complete.

Fiat Chrysler estimated the total value of the various settlements at about $800-million.

Robert Bosch GmbH, which provided emissions control software for the Fiat Chrysler vehicles, agreed to pay $27.5-million to resolve claims from diesel owners, while Fiat Chrysler is paying $280-million of the $307.5-million.

Fiat Chrysler is also paying $311-million in total civil penalties to U.S. and California regulators, granting extended warranties worth $105-million. Fiat Chrysler is also paying $72.5-million for state civil penalties and $33.5-million to California to offset excess emissions and consumer claims.

Fiat Chrysler and Bosch also agreed to pay $66-million to the lawyers representing the vehicle owners.

The hefty penalty was the latest fallout from the U.S. government’s stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen AG admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules.

Regulators said Fiat Chrysler used “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests in real-world driving. Fiat Chrysler did not admit liability.

U.S. regulators are also reviewing Ford Motor Co’s emissions certification process and emissions questions about some Daimler AG vehicles.

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