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Justice Department closes criminal probe of Ford emissions testing

Justice Department closes criminal probe of Ford emissions testing


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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has closed a nearly two-year investigation into the process Ford uses to evaluate the emissions of its vehicles, the automaker disclosed in a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Ford says it “cooperated fully” with the probe, but no action was taken.

Ford originally disclosed the investigation in April 2019, just a few months after it announced its own internal probe into concerns over the process. Those concerns, first raised by Ford employees, had nothing to do with the kind of deceitful “defeat devices” at the center of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. Rather, the employees believed there were problems with some of the analytical models Ford was using to calculate things like aerodynamic drag.

Ford said in the filing that California’s Air Resources Board has also closed an inquiry into the company’s emissions testing process, but “[r]eviews opened by EPA and Environment and Climate Change Canada remain open.”

The DOJ and SEC are still separately investigating Fiat Chrysler (which is now known as Stellantis after merging with France’s PSA Group) for its own emissions cheating scandal, according to a recent SEC filing. Fiat Chrysler recalled nearly 1 million vehicles in 2019 that didn’t meet US emissions standards, and it later settled a civil case with the DOJ that ultimately forced the automaker to pay out $307 million to owners of affected cars. Just one senior manager has been criminally charged so far.

The DOJ was also investigating Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, though the German automaker was ultimately allowed to settle those criminal charges for more than $2 billion last August.