Fiat shares fall as German emissions row escalates

Shares in Fiat Chrysler slumped to a three-month low as its fight with Germany over vehicle emissions escalated after the country’s most-read newspaper reported that the authorities found that the company had cheated.

The Italian-US carmaker said all its vehicles meet European rules after Bild am Sonntag reported that Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority determined the carmaker allegedly used illegal software to manipulate emissions controls.

Fiat Chrysler dropped up to 5.9% to €5.94, the lowest intraday price since late February, at one stage in Milan trading yesterday. That made Italy’s FTSE MIB Index the day’s worst performer in Europe.

A dispute between German regulators and the Fiat came to a head last week, when Fiat refused to meet German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt to discuss findings of an emissions probe and his Italian counterpart told Dobrindt to effectively leave Fiat alone.

Under EU rules, Italy is responsible for testing Fiat cars because the carmaker’s regional operations are centred in the country, a regulation that the manufacturer reiterated through a spokesman yesterday.

“If the Italian authorities are content with Fiat’s vehicles then, unless the German authorities can demonstrate to the Italians that they are missing something in their interpretation, we don’t expect any repercussions for the car maker,” Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at Evercore ISI in London, wrote in a report to clients.

Volkswagen’s revelation in September after a US probe that it rigged diesel-engine software to pass official tests has put the car industry’s credibility under tighter scrutiny. 

The scandal prompted Germany to set up a commission to look into emissions readings across all manufacturers. 

Mitsubishi Motors recently acknowledged separately that it manipulated fuel-economy tests on vehicles in Japan, and Daimler is checking for possible irregularities in its model certifications at the behest of the US Department of Justice.

The German Transport Ministry said on Sunday in response to the Bild report that after Fiat “refused to give an opinion before the inquiry commission,” the motor transport authority, or KBA, relayed measurement data to its counterpart in Italy and the European Commission.

“The Italian model-approval authorities are called upon to assess the results and to take action,” the German ministry said.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Volkswagen plans to abandon centralised decisionmaking in a new strategy being unveiled in mid-June to rebound from its emissions-cheating scandal, acccording to excerpts of a speech from an internal management meeting at the carmaker’s Wolfsburg headquarters. n Bloomberg


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