Dieselgate 2.0: 600K Ram trucks recalled, Cummins to pay $2 billion

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Well, it’s like 2015 all over again, but this time it involves Ram pickup trucks. And a lot of them. Engine maker Cummins is recalling 600,000 Ram trucks as part of a huge $2 billion settlement with both federal and California authorities for using illegal software to cheat results of diesel emissions tests.

The settlement was reached in December, but new details emerged yesterday noting that Cummins had agreed to pay $1.675 billion in civil penalties – the largest ever to be paid under the Clean Air Act – in addition to $325 million to remedy environmental damage, the AP reports. The total bill is more than $2 billion, in what federal and California authorities called a landmark settlement.

“Let this settlement be a lesson: We won’t let greedy corporations cheat their way to success and run over the health and well-being of consumers and our environment along the way,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta told reporters yesterday. 

The scope of the scandal is mind-blowing, with Stellantis-owned Ram cranking out hundreds of thousands of Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks over the past decade all equipped with Cummins diesel engines and their illegal software, known as defeat devices. According to the report, the software limited nitrogen oxide pollution during emissions tests, but then let the pollution fly during “normal operations,” the government said.

From 2013 to 2019, about 630,000 pickups from the 2013 through 2019 model years were equipped with the software, all of which are being recalled. Stellantis had no comment on the case. 

Cummins, however, said that the engines that are being recalled didn’t necessarily exceed emissions limits, the AP wrote. But rather the software couldn’t detect if they did, so the punishment is more for not reporting the software.  

But estimates suggest otherwise, saying that all of those trucks produced “thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides,” US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Electrek’s Take

Well, we certainly don’t have to tell Electrek readers about diesel and its effects on our health and the planet. But it’s pretty crazy to think just how far the auto industry will go to keep these engines running for nothing more than pure profit. It’s been seven years since Volkswagen had its turn, pleading guilty to criminal felony counts after US investigations into its use of illegal software to cheat emissions tests. Volkswagen installed 11 million vehicles around the world with the software, allowing the cars to emit 40 times the pollution than the standards allowed. VW agreed to pay $2.8 billion in criminal fines and $1.5 billion in civil resolutions.

Fiat Chrysler pulled a similar stunt in 2019, after more than 100,000 EcoDiesel Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles were sold with defeat devices installed. The automaker paid $305 million to settle the claims. In 2020, Daimler paid $857 million in penalties for violating the Clean Air Act.

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