Automaker Pleads Guilty in Emissions Conspiracy

The company will reportedly pay $300 million under a plea agreement.

One of Detroit’s Big Three automakers is reportedly set to admit guilt to a sweeping criminal conspiracy to evade federal clean air laws.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Stellantis’ Fiat Chrysler Automobiles division is expected to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges. The plea deal, which could be disclosed as soon as next week, would see the car maker pay some $300 million to settle the charges.

The settlement would conclude lengthy negotiations between the company and the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal prosecutors alleged that FCA employees conspired to install technology known as “defeat devices” to make select vehicles meet emissions standards during official testing — but not when driving on roadways.

Fiat Chrysler allegedly installed those devices on more than 100,000 Ram pickups and Jeep SUVs in the U.S. between the 2014 and 2016 model years. 

The company previously resolved a related civil case — in which it denied deliberately attempting to cheat emissions tests — but talks in the criminal case dragged on for years over disagreements about whether the automaker would admit guilt — and to what, if any, charges.

Although the plea would close the book on the company, the scandal still has some loose ends remaining. One FCA employee is set to go to trial for allegedly misleading regulators, and two others also reportedly face charges.

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