PARIS/MILAN Feb 7 Fiat Chrysler
vehicles were allowed to skip key tests for illegal engine
software during Italy's main emissions-cheating investigation in
the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, according to the transport
ministry's own report.
The report, presented to a European parliamentary committee
in October but never officially published, will be seized upon
by environmental groups pressing MEPs to vote on Thursday for
tougher EU oversight of vehicle testing by national authorities.
"It's imperative that we break this cosy relationship
between national testing authorities and their domestic
carmakers," said Julia Poliscanova, a vehicle emissions
specialist at Brussels-based campaign group Transport &
Environment. "This problem is at the heart of Dieselgate."
The Italian report may raise questions for Fiat Chrysler
(FCA) as it faces a U.S. criminal investigation for alleged
emissions manipulation and German accusations that it, like VW
, used "defeat devices" to confound nitrogen oxide
FCA on Monday became the third carmaker after VW and Renault
to be referred to French prosecutors over the scandal. The
Italian-American company denies breaking any laws, a spokesman
reiterated, declining further comment.
The ministry findings, which have been circulated by some
Italian opposition politicians and examined by Reuters, include
complete sets of data for eight diesel cars made by BMW, Ford,
Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and GM's Opel.
But for three of the seven FCA models also investigated - a
Jeep Cherokee 2.0, Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 and Lancia Ypsilon
1.3 - results are missing from an on-road measurement phase and
a reversed version of the EU's standard "NEDC" lab test.
All seven FCA models also lack data for an "Artemis" test
that adjusts the EU lab regime to reflect urban driving styles.
The three skipped protocols are typically used to help unmask
defeat devices by preventing them from detecting the test.
No explanation for the missing FCA results was offered in
the document. But transport ministry spokeswoman Luisa Gabbi
told Reuters a "new definitive version" had been drafted to
include more data for FCA models following further tests, and
would be published in coming weeks.
Following VW's exposure in 2015 for U.S. diesel
test-cheating, several European countries launched their own
investigative test programmes.
Their results revealed on-road NOx emissions as high as 15
times the regulatory limits, as well as the widespread use of
defeat devices that reduce exhaust treatment in some conditions.
Carmakers including Renault, GM and Fiat have broadly
invoked an EU legal loophole that allows such software only when
it is necessary for safety or engine protection. All deny
breaking the law.
In German and French testing, a Jeep Cherokee 2.0 litre
similar to the model overlooked by Italian engineers emitted
between 5.3 and 9.9 times the legal NOx limit under modified EU
test cycles conducted in the lab or on the road.
Independent road testing of a Fiat 500L with the same
1.6-litre engine as the omitted Alfa Giulietta measured NOx
levels more than 5.6 times the statutory 180 miligrammes per
kilometre for Euro 5 engines, according to UK-based Emissions
According to the Italian report, the FCA models were all
analysed in Fiat's own labs under the supervision of ministry
officials, while all other models were tested at an independent
Istituto Motori facility.
The draft regulation before MEPs would bolster EU
supervision of government testing authorities to address
perceived conflicts of interest when they inspect and certify
the cars of their own national manufacturing champions.
Brussels would get powers to carry out vehicle spot-checks
and allow national authorities to peer-review one another's
decisions. Under current rules, a vehicle certification is valid
EU-wide but can be revoked only by the country that issued it.
Lawmakers on the European Parliament's internal market
committee are expected to approve the draft with only minor
amendments on Thursday, setting the stage for a plenary vote.
The European Commission, which drew up the proposals last
year, is mediating in a related dispute after Germany accused
Italian regulators of failing to act on evidence that FCA models
including the Fiat 500X use banned defeat devices.
A spokeswoman for the EU executive declined to comment on
the Italian diesel report but emphasized the need for change.
"Member states have so far wanted to keep exclusive
responsibility," Lucia Caudet said. "But this system has
(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels and
Stefano Rebaudo and Agnieszka Flak in Milan; Writing by Laurence
Frost; editing by Susan Thomas)