Cummins to pay USD1.7B settlement for diesel emissions cheating
Diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. has agreed to pay a record USD1.7 billion civil penalty to settle allegations it violated the Clean Air Act and California law by using software “defeat devices” to cheat vehicle emissions testing.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board and California attorney general’s office announced the proposed settlement on January 10.
Beyond paying the largest-ever Clean Air Act penalty, Cummins also agreed to recall and repair software in more than 600,000 Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks equipped with Cummins diesel engines at no cost to vehicle owners.
The EPA discovered the devices after testing RAM trucks at its National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. The software turned off emissions controls during real-world driving conditions, allowing higher levels of nitrogen oxides than permitted under federal and California clean air regulations.
Exposure to nitrogen oxide pollution can aggravate respiratory diseases like asthma and contribute to ozone and fine particulate matter formation, which also carry health risks.
Cummins has started the process of updating software and will offer extended warranties on some emission control parts in repaired vehicles. The company will also pay over USD175 million to California clean air programs and fund locomotive engine replacements to offset past nitrogen oxide emissions.
Proposed consent decrees outlining the settlement terms were filed on January 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Related complaints allege nearly 1 million Dodge trucks sold between 2013 and 2023 used undisclosed software controls, with more than 630,000 containing illegal defeat devices.
Although Cummins sought emissions certifications for the trucks, they were manufactured and sold by Fiat Chrysler, now part of Stellantis. Cummins will coordinate recall repairs with Fiat Chrysler and its dealerships.
The settlement comes amid heightened Justice Department commitment to enforcing environmental laws protecting public health after emissions cheating scandals at other manufacturers like Volkswagen.
In a statement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said it “demonstrates that EPA is committed to holding polluters accountable.”