Paris 2014 Fiat 500X 16

Following Volkswagen’s admission last year in cheating emissions tests with software, the German transport ministry has asked the European Commission to investigate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) for potentially illegal emissions control devices in their vehicles, according to a Reuters report.

On the same day German government documents stating the transport authorities’ intentions were shown, a Fiat spokesperson said that the company’s cars “conform to current emissions rules and do not contain defeat devices.”

The letter, seen by Reuters, said that tests by German authorities on the Fiat 500X, Fiat Doblo and Jeep Renegade could prove the “illegal use of a device to switch off exhaust treatment systems”, and urged the European Commission to consult with Italian authorities for a resolution.

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“It is first and foremost a dialogue between the two member states concerned, with an obligation to keep the Commission informed and the possibility for the Commission to facilitate a solution if no agreement can be found,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The report added that a source within the Italian infrastructure ministry, which includes the nation’s motor vehicle authority, said the country had not received communication from Germany on this matter. The source added that Italian tests shown that Fiat 500 models did not contain defeat devices, and that the German motor vehicle authority (KBA) had not disagreed with Italy’s findings.

Generally speaking, emissions control defeat devices detect situations when the vehicle is in a test environment, and lower the engine’s emissions. The trade off for improved emissions is reduced performance, which would be unacceptable to the consumer, and so the full functionality of the emissions control system is limited when the vehicle is detected to be in a real-life driving situation.