A picture taken on July 22, 2020 shows the logo of carmaker "FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles" on the facade of the group's offices in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Investigators in Germany, Switzerland and Italy are searching several sites over suspicion that vehicles built by Fiat Chrysler and Iveco groups may have been fitted with illegal defeat devices, as the "dieselgate" emissions scandal widened. Picture: AFP/DPAArne Dedert
A picture taken on July 22, 2020 shows the logo of carmaker "FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles" on the facade of the group's offices in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Investigators in Germany, Switzerland and Italy are searching several sites over suspicion that vehicles built by Fiat Chrysler and Iveco groups may have been fitted with illegal defeat devices, as the "dieselgate" emissions scandal widened. Picture: AFP/DPAArne Dedert

Berlin/Frankfurt — Fiat Chrysler sites in Germany and Italy were raided by Frankfurt prosecutors as the Italian carmaker risks being dragged into the diesel-emissions scandal.

The fraud probe is looking at people linked to “an international automaker”, who may be responsible for installing a defeat device in engines of the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands, Frankfurt prosecutors said on Wednesday. CNH Industrial’s Iveco brand was also probed.

“Fiat Chrysler confirms that a number of the group’s offices in Europe have been visited by investigators in the context of a request for assistance by magistrates in Germany,” the company said. “The company immediately made itself available to the officials, providing its full co-operation.”

Almost five years after a US probe into Volkswagen over the use of so-called defeat devices in its engines became public, the global vehicle industry is still struggling with allegations it dodged emission limits with its diesel cars. While VW and Daimler have settled criminal probes, Wednesday’s raids show that authorities have not yet put the issue aside.

Truck and tractor-maker CNH Industrial said in a separate statement that “a number” of the group’s offices in Europe were visited by investigators and that it was also fully co-operating with them.

CNH Industrial was created in 2013 through the merger of Iveco producer Fiat Industrial with the CNH agricultural and construction-equipment division.

The Fiat searches took place in the German states of Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Italian region of Piedmont. Unspecified sites in Switzerland’s Thurgau canton were also raided.

“While vehicles complied with nitrogen-oxide limits in the testing mode, the defeat devices are assumed to turn off the exhaustion cleaning in real driving,” prosecutors said. “The use of such defeat devices is banned” under EU rules.

Cars with such equipment cannot be approved anywhere in the EU, and owners risk driving bans or losing permission to use them, the prosecutors said.

While the models have been certified by Italian regulators, prosecutors are not bound by that finding and can review the issue on their own as they did with VW’s cars that had approval by Germany’s transport authority.

Prosecutors say more than 200,000 vehicles are affected in Germany. They said the Fiat engine range suspected of carrying a defeat device is the “Family B”, which includes the 1,3l Multijet, 1,6l Multijet and 2,0l Multijet of the EU5 and EU6 emission classes used in Alfa, Fiat and Jeep vehicles.

The commercial vehicle engines 110 Multijet F1AE3481G, 115 Multijet 250A1000, 150 Multijet F1AE3481D and 180 Multijet F1CE3481E are also part of the probe, according to the statement.

Bloomberg

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