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Fiat Chrysler has agreed to a $515 million US settlement on charges it installed "defeat devices" on cars to evade emissions tests, the US Justice Department announced Thursday.

The Justice Department said Fiat Chrysler must work with one or more vendors of aftermarket catalytic converters to improve the efficiency of 200,000 converters that will be sold in the 47 USA states that do not already require the use of the California-mandated high-efficiency gasoline vehicle catalysts.

This on a day when Fiat Chrysler also agreed to a settlement in the neighborhood of $800 million. It will mark a milestone in the second major case brought by American officials against an automaker for Clean Air Act violations stemming from diesel vehicles equipped with pollution controls prohibited by USA law. The VW scandal extended to some 11 million other vehicles the company sold worldwide and led to US criminal charges against eight people. First, FCA will recall approximately 100,000 examples of the 2014-2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. The multinational auto manufacturer will pay $305 million to the state of California and the federal government, recall around 104,000 vehicles, pay vehicle owners an average of $2,500 in compensation, and pay approximately $78 million in litigation and other penalties.

"By concealing this software, Fiat Chrysler deceived regulators and violated environmental law", said Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio.

The Justice Department also opened a criminal investigation into Fiat Chrysler's conduct, and several state attorneys general also were investigating.

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Under the deal, the company may be subject to additional penalties if at least 85 per cent of the vehicles aren't repaired within two years. The company will also pay a $305 (£239 / €265) million civil penalty and "implement a program to mitigate excess pollution from these vehicles".

The settlement is the second between the USA government and an automaker over allegations of cheating on diesel emissions. VW's tally is past $25 billion in the United States alone.

Representatives for Fiat Chrysler and the Justice Department declined to comment.

The settlement is not expected to outline any criminal charges, according to ABC News.

Asked about the message the settlement would send, acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler responded: "Don't cheat".


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