Ford Confirms DOJ Criminal Investigation Over Its Emission Test Practices

Ford Emissions
People walk by a Ford Escape SUV displayed at the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai (Photo: Reuters)

In its latest financial filing, which it submitted late last week, Ford Motor Company confirmed reports that it was in fact under investigation by the US Department of Justice. The investigation by the agency was reportedly over its internal emissions testing practices. The automotive manufacturer did not elaborate on the details of the investigation, but it did confirm that it was still in its preliminary stages.

Ford clarified to reporters that the investigation was not over a similar issue as Volkswagen's diesel-gate scandal. The company further pointed out that it had not used any of the so-called "defeat devices" nor had it tampered with its vehicle's software to pass emissions tests by regulators.

In February, Ford had announced that it was launching its own investigation into its internal emissions testing facilities for reported inconsistencies. The automaker's own employees had apparently raised red flags with the company's heads for apparently miscalculating some of its metrics. One of the metrics that was under investigation was Ford's "road load" metric, which takes into account elements such as aerodynamic drag, tire pressure, and weight when computing a vehicle's fuel economy and emissions.

The company uses these factors to measure a vehicle's different performance data when running at a constant speed on a smooth and flat road. This test basically looks at the vehicle's performance in a real-world scenario. The inconsistencies in how the company measured its "road load" apparently resulted in it reporting higher fuel economy and lower emissions than in real-world scenarios.

Prior to its internal investigation, Ford had sought the help of a law firm called Sidley Austin to help it traverse the possible legal ramification of what it might find. The automaker also informed the Environmental Protection Agency about its investigation to be as transparent about it as possible.

In its most recent statement, Ford confirmed that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation against the company. The company further explained that it was fully cooperating with the agency and it will be sharing everything it has found so-far through its own investigation.

Apart from Ford, companies such as Daimler and Fiat Chrysler are reportedly also under criminal investigation over the companies' emission testing practices. Similar to Ford, both Daimler and Fiat Chrysler have denied using any form of cheating devices to make their vehicles appear cleaner during emissions tests. Earlier in the year, Fiat Chrysler settled a civil case with the Department of Justice, resulting in the company paying a US$800 million fine and recalling more than 860,000 vehicles.

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