Not as clean as claimed

Fiat Chrysler Au­tos and Cum­mins now in the dock along­side VW and Audi for cheat­ing exhausts

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

IT is not just VW and Audi that are be­ing sued for ly­ing to buy­ers about the lev­els of toxic gases emit­ted by their cars in nor­mal use.

Seat­tle law firm Ha­gens Ber­man Sobol Shapiro has now filed a class ac­tion law­suit against sev­eral Amer­i­can brands for al­leged emis­sions cheat­ing … and Mercedes may be next in their sights.

The lawyers, who were in­volved with the Volk­swa­gen 2.0- litre diesel set­tle­ment, last week sued Cum­mins and Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles ( FCA) on be­half of 500 000 big bakkie own­ers in Amer­ica.

They are seek­ing re­im­burse­ment and dam­ages to the tune of $ 3 000 ( R42 636) to $ 5 000, de­pend­ing on the ve­hi­cle.

In its court pa­pers, the com­pany wrote Cum­mins and Chrysler had con­spired to con­ceal il­le­gally high lev­els of emis­sions in Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel pickup trucks man­u­fac­tured be­tween 2007 and 2012.

They ex­plain how the two com­pa­nies saw a golden busi­ness op­por­tu­nity in 2001 to meet the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s ( EPA) strin­gent emis­sions stan­dards for heavy- duty high­way diesel en­gines, slated to take ef­fect in 2010. The lawyers’ courts pa­pers quote how Cum- mins had an­nounced the new truck as the “strong­est, clean­est, qui­etest bestin- class 2007 Cum­mins turbo Diesel. Leapfrog­ging the com­pe­ti­tion, the Cum­mins 6,7 litre turbo Diesel en­gine”, which is used ex­clu­sively in Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy duty pickup trucks to achieve what Cum­mins said was “the world’s low­est 2010 En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency ( EPA) NOx stan­dard” a full three years ahead of the re­quire­ments.

“In or­der to pro­duce a diesel en­gine that has de­sir­able torque and power char­ac­ter­is­tics, good fuel econ­omy, and emis­sions lev­els low enough to meet the strin­gent Euro­pean and United States gov­ern­men­tal emis­sion stan­dards, FCA and Cum­mins ( col­lec­tively, the de­fen­dants) de­vel­oped the 6,7 litre diesel en­gine with a so­phis­ti­cated NOx ad­sor­ber. The pri­mary emis­sion con­trol af­tertreat­ment tech­nolo­gies in­clude a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter ( DPF) and a NOx ad­sor­ber cat­a­lyst sys­tem.

“The DPF traps and re­moves par­tic­u­late [ soot] emis­sions, while the NOx ad­sor­ber sys­tem fa­cil­i­tates the cap­ture and re­duc­tion of NOx into less harm­ful sub­stances, such as ni­tro­gen and oxy­gen.

“In con­trast to Cum­mins’s prom­ises, real- world test­ing has re­vealed that the Dodge 2500 and 3500, equipped with the Cum­mins 6.7 litre turbo diesel en- gine, emit dan­ger­ous lev­els of NOx at many times higher than their gaso­line coun­ter­parts; what a rea­son­able con­sumer would ex­pect from the clean­est en­gine in its class; United States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency max­i­mum stan­dards; and the lev­els set for the ve­hi­cles to ob­tain a cer­tifi­cate of com­pli­ance that al­lows them to be sold in the United States,” the lawyers stated.

Thus Cum­mins’s “clean­est en­gine in its class” is far from clean, they added.

The lawyers said FCA and Cum­mins had “vig­or­ously mar­keted the Ad­sor­ber En­gine, and the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 with the Ad­sor­ber En­gine, as the strong­est, clean­est, qui­etest diesel en­gine in its class”.

In 2011, Cum­mins also stated that the “prod­uct has been in com­mer­cial use for over four years, de­light­ing cus­tomers with its per­for­mance and dura­bil­ity, and de­liv­er­ing on Cum­mins [ sic] com­mit­ment to a cleaner, healthier en­vi­ron­ment”.

FCA’s ad­ver­tis­ing claimed the “cleaner diesels saved own­ers time, ex­pense, and has­sles, and that both the 6,7 litre Cum­mins Turbo Diesel in Ram Heavy Duty pick- ups met all 50- state emis­sions stan­dards with no need for a diesel ex­haust fluid sys­tem.

“These rep­re­sen­ta­tions are de­cep­tive and false. The af­fected ve­hi­cles rou­tinely ex­ceed ap­pli­ca­ble Fed­eral and Cal­i­for­nia emis­sions lim­its.

“The le­gal limit of NOx emis­sions for stop- and- go driv­ing is 200 mg/ mile. When tested, Dodge Ram 2500s emit­ted 702 mg/ mile, and 2 826 mg/ mile at max­i­mum emis­sion. The Cal­i­for­nia NOx limit for high­way con­di­tions is 400 mg/ mile. Test­ing for the 2500 shows an av­er­age of 756 and max of 2,252 mg/ mile,” thun­dered the lawyers.

When done with GM, the Seat­tle­based smoke- chasers look set to aim for the Mercedes- Benz, a rel­a­tively small player in Amer­ica. For as they said, “the green bub­ble with re­spect to diesel ve­hi­cles has truly popped on Septem­ber 18, 2015, when the EPA is­sued a No­tice of Vi­o­la­tion of the Clean Air Act against Volk­swa­gen”.


ONLY IN THE U. S.: While lawyers are lit­i­gat­ing against VW, Audi and now Dodge Ram, naysay­ers to cli­mate change in North Amer­ica have started ‘ coal rolling’, with sev­eral com­pa­nies sell­ing mech­a­nisms with big exhausts and smoke stacks to send clouds of diesel smog into the at­mos­phere in de­fi­ance to laws aim­ing to limit toxic fumes.

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