Fiat Ducato emissions scandal

Fiat Ducato emissions scandal

According to the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt a.M., FCA Italy S.p.A. (hereinafter referred to as Fiat) is alleged to have installed an inadmissible defeat device in more than 200,000 Fiat Ducato base vehicles for motor homes and is thus now the next car manufacturer to be implicated in the diesel scandal. 

After conducting its own tests in relation to the diesel scandal, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) came to the conclusion that Fiat was using an inadmissible defeat device in engines that ensures that the exhaust gas recirculation system no longer works as it should after a certain time - namely 22 minutes. The report can be downloaded here and the affected engines here.

The KBA has already announced recalls. Driving bans and decommissioning for vehicles affected by the diesel scandal are to be feared.

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Fiat Ducato emissions scandal | Backgrounds

In 2016, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) was first alerted by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) to conspicuous exhaust gas values in Fiat vehicles. After conducting its own tests, the KBA came to the conclusion that Fiat was using an impermissible defeat device in engines that ensures that the exhaust gas recirculation system no longer works as it should after a certain time - namely 22 minutes. The KBA then drew the attention of the Italian authorities to this problem and Fiat's involvement in the diesel scandal.

In May 2017, the EU Commission initiated infringement proceedings against the Italian government for non-compliance with EU type approval regulations.

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At the same time, three Fiat managers were indicted in the U.S. for fraud in connection with the diesel scandal after allegedly developing illegal emissions software.

In 2018, the EU Commission then filed a lawsuit against Italy, among others, for failing to comply with EU type-approval regulations.

In 2020, the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt am Main initiated investigations against Fiat as a result of the diesel scandal. Office premises in Germany, Italy and Switzerland were searched in this connection. Investigation results have not yet been published. The fact sheet of the Hesse police on the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal can be found here.

In April 2021, the ARD Plusminus program took a closer look at the diesel scandal in motor homes with Fiat engines. In May 2021, the KBA announced to DUH that it would take further steps to ensure that the inadmissibilities in the affected vehicles were removed . Read more about the KBA's response to DUH's letterhere.

At the end of December 2021, the EU Commission called on Italy to punish the Fiat Group for the illegal defeat devices. You can read more about the EU Commission's proceedings here.

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Fiat Ducato emissions scandal

Allegations of exhaust gas manipulation in Fiat Ducato vehicles

Fiat's involvement in the diesel scandal is based on the fact that the diesel emission values of several Fiat Ducato engines are probably being illegally manipulated by a time-based shutdown of the emission control system. These models should not actually have received approval in the EU.

Measurements by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) have also most recently (as of May 2022) shown that the nitrogen oxide limits (NOx) of Fiat Ducato-based motor homes affected by the diesel scandal are being significantly exceeded. The detailed results of the measurements can be found here.

In November 2022, DUH published internal Bosch documents which indicate that the defeat device installed was probably also commissioned by "Fiat". Bosch pointed out that the defeat devices commissioned were legally questionable. Read more about DUH's revelations on the BOSCH documents here.

Based on this clear evidence, many courts now recognize that the deactivation of the exhaust gas purification system in Fiat Ducato engines constitutes an impermissible defeat device and is not covered by the exceptions to permissible defeat devices. In its judgment, which is not yet final, the Dortmund Regional Court even assumes that the type approval authority in Italy has been fraudulently deceived.

The aim of European legislation on exhaust emission limits should be to ensure that the regulation not only ensures that the limits are met on the test bench, but also that air quality in Europe is improved by cleaner engines. Fiat violated the goal of cleaner air in the diesel scandal by shutting off the exhaust gas purification system on Fiat Ducato-based motorhomes after 22 minutes. You can read more about the detailed allegations against Fiat in the Ducato emissions scandal here .

Affected motorhomes in the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal

In principle, it can be assumed that motorhomes with Fiat Ducato-based engines that were manufactured between 2014 and 2019 and that also have the EURO 5 or 6 emissions class are affected by the emissions scandal. This excludes engines that have already been tested in the WLTP cycle and are designated as EURO 6d or EURO 6d temp in the vehicle registration document. You can find out more about the affected engines and models in the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal here.

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Legal assessment

The legal assessment of the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal is taking a turn for the worse for Fiat. Many courts regard Fiat's defeat device as an illegal defeat device that was installed solely in Fiat's profit interests. In this respect, these courts assume in their rulings, which are not yet final, that Fiat has harmed its customers in an immoral manner. You can read more about the positive rulings in relation to the Fiat diesel scandal here.

The legal basis for this assessment is Section 826 of the German Civil Code (damages for immoral harm). It requires customers to prove that Fiat intentionally deceived them. This means that it must be proven that Fiat executives intentionally sold vehicles with Fiat Ducato engines with the knowledge of an impermissible defeat device in order to enrich Fiat.

Currently (as of October 2022), a change in the case law in the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal is emerging. If the ECJ follows the opinion of the Advocate General at the ECJ Anthanasios Ranthos, the exhaust emission limits are to be classified as laws for the protection of consumption. The legal basis for damages would then be the simple tort claim for damages under Section 823 (2) of the German Civil Code. The key difference here is that Fiat executives do not have to be proven to have acted intentionally in the Fiat diesel scandal, but negligence is sufficient. The simplified presentation of evidence should generally lead to a successful outcome of the lawsuit in the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal. You can find out more about the Advocate General's Opinion here (as of October 2022).

Legal possibilities

Towards the dealer:

If a Fiat Ducato model affected by the diesel scandal was sold to you with an inadmissible defeat device and you therefore own a motorhome that does not comply with the legal requirements, this constitutes a material defect.

The warranty period expires two years after the handover of a new car and one year after the handover of used cars by the dealer. Until then, it is possible to assert the following claims against the dealer:

  • Cancellation: The purchase is cancelled. The vehicle is returned. The purchase price is refunded less compensation for use.
  • Subsequent performance by subsequent delivery: If the dealer sells a current model that does not have an illegal defeat device, you can demand one.
  • Subsequent performance by rectification: If the manufacturer provides rectification in the form of updates. Note that an update can increase consumption and damage the engine.
  • Reduction: You get back part of the purchase price as compensation.

Towards the manufacturer:

Irrespective of the warranty, you have the option of claiming damages for immoral damage against the manufacturer of the engine covered by the diesel scandal. If the ECJ classifies the exhaust emission standards as laws for the protection of consumers, it is possible to claim damages for violation of a protective law.

According to a non-binding assessment, it generally makes sense to take legal action to claim damages by reversing the purchase agreement. A corresponding action is directed towards reimbursement of the purchase price of the mobile home (plus interest on arrears, if applicable) less compensation for use for the duration of use. It should be noted that the mileage or the period of use at the time of the last oral hearing is likely to be relevant for the compensation for use to be paid. If you wish to keep your mobile home, experience has shown that you can also demand monetary compensation of up to approximately 25% of the purchase price instead of reversal.

The amount of compensation is based on the purchase price of the motor home, in some cases including all additional equipment. The costs of financing are also taken into account.

Here you can calculate your possible claim for damages.

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Prospects for success in Fiat Ducato emissions scandal

The prospects of success in the Fiat Ducato emissions scandal have risen sharply in recent months (as of August 2022). On the one hand, many judgments - although not yet final - award damages to the owners of motorhomes and, on the other hand, due to the changing case law of the ECJ in the diesel scandal, the case law in Germany is also likely to change. Even the BGH has indicated a change in case law in its press release for the upcoming hearing on November 21, 2022 at the end of the press release.

If the BGH also follows the Advocate General ECJ, it will be much easier for the injured motor home owners to sue for damages.

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What are the consequences of manipulating the engine for you?

If you are affected by the diesel scandal, you must generally expect - even if not directly - recalls, driving bans, withdrawal of registration and decommissioning. Vehicles that do not comply with the Europe-wide emissions standard are also not allowed to drive on European roads. If the manufacturers do not find a solution, they will be threatened with exclusion from road traffic. Even if a "retrofit" is offered, its effectiveness is questionable.

As early as February 5, 2021, the KBA ordered a recall m diesel scandal for the Iveco Daily. According to the KBA, the reason for the recall is "software" that causes the exhaust gas purification system to deteriorate. A letter from the KBA dated May 5, 2021, indicates that the KBA is currently reviewing further steps to address the inadmissibility in motor homes with Euro 5 and Euro 6 classifications.

Learn more about this letter here

How do we proceed?

We assess for you in a non-binding and free personal conversation whether your vehicle is affected by the Fiat diesel scandal and which options come into consideration. Should you mandate us, we will take over all further steps for you.

This starts with the legal protection insurance. Here we make a coverage request for you and clarify whether the legal protection insurance will cover the costs of proceedings. The inquiry by our law firm with your legal protection insurance is free of charge for you - even if the insurance does not cover the costs. In this rare case you can decide how to proceed. There is no obligation whatsoever and there are no costs for you.

The next step would normally be to assert their claims out of court. Unfortunately, experience has shown that out-of-court letters in the diesel scandal against Fiat are unsuccessful and go unanswered.

For this reason, we file a lawsuit on your behalf to assert your claims. We can attend the court dates on your behalf. We report to you before and after each step in court.

The duration of proceedings is highly dependent on the respective courts and cannot be estimated as a general rule. Based on past experience, it can be expected to take at least 9 to 18 months. If case law in Germany changes as expected, shorter procedural times can be expected.

At every step of the process, you remain "Up to Date" and can decide for yourself how to proceed.


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