5/15/2018 | 1 MINUTE READ

Marchionne Berated FCA Envoy for Cheater Device Denial

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne blasted a company spokesman in 2015 for prematurely declaring the company didn’t use illegal software to evade diesel emission rules.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne blasted a company spokesman in 2015 for prematurely declaring the company didn’t use illegal software to evade diesel emission rules.

The statement came from Gualberto Ranieri, then head of the company’s PR in the U.S., a few days after Volkswagen AG’s diesel emissions cheating was revealed—and well before FCA had time to determine its innocence.

“Are you out of your goddam mind?” Marchionne fumed, calling Ranieri’s actions “utterly stupid and unconscionable” and suggesting he be fired, Bloomberg News reports. The news service says Ranieri returned to Italy a year later and left the company earlier this year.

Marchionne’s outburst has emerged from just-unsealed court documents in a class-action lawsuit against FCA that was filed in a Manhattan court in 2015 on behalf of investors.

The complaint claims the carmaker didn’t comply with U.S. emission laws, failed to report its use of certain emission control software as required by regulatory law, delayed recalling affected vehicles and downplayed the cost and gravity of federal investigations into the issue.

A separate lawsuit filed a year ago by the U.S. Dept. of Justice accuses FCA of using so-called defeat device software to evade diesel emission regulations. The complaint targets 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 full-size pickup trucks powered by V-6 diesels.

FCA has repeatedly denied it intentionally evaded diesel emission rules. It repeated its declaration yesterday. But Bloomberg says the unsealed court documents indicate several executives were aware in 2014 that the company was using defeat devices.