Fiat Chrysler discussing potential diesel emissions settlement

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA

Lawyers for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and owners of the automaker’s diesel-powered vehicles are in settlement talks over accusations of excess diesel emissions, a court-appointed adviser stated Tuesday.

In May, the U.S. Justice Department took legal action against Fiat Chrysler, accusing the company of unlawfully using software that resulted in excess emissions in almost 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles sold since 2014. Various lawsuits have been filed by vehicle owners.

Court settlement master Ken Feinberg stated at a court hearing in San Francisco Tuesday that “term sheets” or proposed settlement files have been exchanged between Fiat Chrysler and diesel owner lawyers.

Feinberg stated the proposals were briefly discussed at a conference Tuesday with the parties, along with the Justice Department, California Air Resources Board and German auto provider Robert Bosch GmbH, which develops diesel vehicle systems, and has also been sued by diesel owners.

Feinberg stated it was “a very healthy conversation on how we might get to yes.” He stated he would hold a day of settlement talks in Washington between the Justice Department and Fiat Chrysler in January, in addition to another day of talks between the automaker, Bosch and diesel owners.

There are parallel discussion between the Justice Department and Fiat Chrysler and the company and diesel owners focused on reaching settlements.

“We’re trying to find various substantive ways to secure an early comprehensive settlement,” Feinberg stated, adding a settlement might take place prior screening on automobiles is completed in March. “Everybody in good faith is certainly attempting to determine how we may achieve a comprehensive settlement.”

In July, Fiat Chrysler gained approval from federal and California regulators to sell 2017 diesel vehicles when it came under scrutiny for alleged excess emissions in older diesel models.

Fiat Chrysler lawyer Robert Giuffra stated in court the company is confident it can use upgraded emissions software in the 2017 vehicles as the basis of a fix to resolve agencies’ concerns over 2014-2016 diesel automobiles.

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