FIAT-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne berated his PR boss for claiming that Fiat-Chrysler didn’t have “defeat devices” on its Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel models, according to a class-action suit heard in a US court this week.
The Wall Street Journal reports Marchionne allegedly sent an email in 2015 to his PR boss, Gualberto Ranieri, asking: “Are you out of your goddamn mind?”.
The email also said Ranieri’s actions were “utterly stupid and unconscionable” and he should be sacked.
“It is understandable that our CEO would have a forceful response to any employee who would opine on such a significant and complex matter, without the matter having been fully reviewed through the appropriate channels. This is particularly true given that the statements were made within only a few days of the Volkswagen diesel issue becoming public, and before a comprehensive internal review and discussions with component suppliers was possible.”
Monday’s disclosures regarding Fiat Chrysler come as the carmaker is in settlement talks with the US Justice Department over a lawsuit filed last year which accuses the company of violating the Clean Air Act by allowing vehicles to produce emissions that were more than 20 times the legal limit.
The Wall St Journal reports this week’s statement from Fiat Chrysler notes that while it is in settlement talks with the government and private parties, it will “vigorously” defend itself against any claim that it intentionally cheated on emissions tests.
Volkswagen was last year convicted of installing illegal software on almost 600,000 diesel vehicles sold in the US. The defeat devices operated during the official testing regime to reduce emissions to the mandated level but them emitted far more pollutants in regular driving. The company has since paid billions in reparations and fines.
In one example the lawsuit quotes an employee working in the on-board diagnostics documentation team as saying: “I brought this up some time back and I got push back Lol emissions guys are cheaters, and they know it.”
“It is inappropriate to draw conclusions from isolated communications and internal deliberations, without the more detailed context that is part of the reviews FCA is conducting as part of the investigation process,” the company said in a statement to the journal.