Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares were halted Thursday after plunging the most intraday on record as the U.S. government accused the company of using software that allowed excess diesel emissions in about 104,000 vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency alleges Fiat Chrysler violated the Clean Air Act by installing and failing to disclose the software in Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles and Ram 1500 pickups sold in the U.S., according to a statement. Fiat Chrysler defended its systems as legal.
“Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle’s engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in the agency’s statement. “We continue to investigate the nature and impact of these devices.”
Fiat Chrysler fell as much as 18%, the biggest intraday drop since the shares began trading in October 2014. The stock declined 16% to $9.30 as of 11:04 a.m. before being halted in New York trading.
Fiat Chrysler “intends to work with the incoming administration to present its case and resolve this matter fairly and equitably,” the automaker said in a statement Thursday. “The company’s diesel-powered vehicles meet all applicable regulatory requirements.”
The EPA issued notice of Fiat Chrysler’s alleged wrongdoing one day after Volkswagen AG agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities and plead guilty to an diesel emissions-cheating scandal that dates back to September 2015. The agreement reached Wednesday pushes VW’s costs to about 20.5 billion euros ($21.85 billion).
By Jamie Butters and Ryan Beene.