Legal firm PGMBM is filing a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in response to the fitting of ‘defeat devices’ in breach of diesel emissions regulations.

The case, issued in the High Court of Justice, is expected to affect several thousands of vehicles across England and Wales, including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Iveco and Suzuki diesel models.

FCA allegedly misled consumers by inserting the defeat devices, which temporarily reduce vehicle emissions in order to cheat regulatory checks on emission limits.

Without defeat devices, vehicles would fail regulatory checks, which have been put in place by EU and UK laws to protect customers and the environment.

Jeremy Evans, senior associate at PGMBM, said: “FCA must be held to account for these practices, and this case will give customers the opportunity to pursue justice and be compensated for being misled by a company that they may have trusted.”

For individuals owning or leasing an affected vehicle, first registered between 2008 and 2020, Evans explained: “Legally, consumers could be entitled to anything up to the full cost of the affected vehicles. Based on similar legal actions around the world, we believe claimants should expect £10,000 per vehicle.”

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Illegal defeat devices represent a growing issue of large-scale emissions cheating across the automotive industry, with PGMBM also leading actions against Volkswagen Group and Mercedes.

The lawsuit comes after authorities in Germany, Italy and Switzerland raided the Fiat-Chrysler offices in July over the claims that certain engines produced illegal levels of emissions.

Driving emissions for vehicles fitted with defeat devices are much higher, which can mean increased maintenance and fuel costs, alongside an increased risk to individual health.

Of these driving emissions, nitrogen dioxide is a major contributor to diminishing air quality and worsening respiratory conditions. High nitrogen dioxide emissions have also been found to lower life expectancy, especially in children.

According to research by the Royal College of Physicians, 40,000 early deaths can be attributable to illegal levels of air pollutions. Studies by the University of Cambridge have also established a link between high nitrogen dioxide levels and Coronavirus deaths.

Responding to the announcement, an FCA spokesperson told Motor Finance: “FCA believes this claim to be totally without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves against it.”