Ford to pay $2.96 million in CARB fines

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ford Motor Co. is the latest large vehicle maker to get slammed with a multimillion-dollar fine by the California Air Resources Board.

In an interesting twist, however, part of Ford’s fine money will go to help fund diesel upgrades for companies needing compliance help to meet California’s Truck and Bus Regulation.

According to a CARB news release, CARB investigators found on-board diagnostic systems on some Ford vehicles sold in California weren’t working properly, which could lead to increased emissions in the sometimes smog-choked state.

Ford has agreed to pay $2.96 million in fines for the violations – including $740,000 that will go to help small-business owners finance retrofits or upgrades necessary to meet CARB’s Truck and Bus Rule.

The state thinks about 90 vehicles may be upgraded as a result of the Ford contribution.

“This settlement will help reduce pollution by providing much-needed financial assistance to California truckers who need to operate clean diesel vehicles that improve California’s air quality,” California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said in a statement.

Lockyer chairs the California Pollution Control Financing Authority, which provides financial assistance to reduce waste.

Annette Hebert, CARB Emissions Compliance, Automotive Regulations and Science Division Chief, said in the release “while Ford fully cooperated in the resolution of this matter, violations that can directly lead to higher levels of smog-forming pollution are taken very seriously.”

On-board diagnostic systems monitor engine and emission control system operations that help service technicians pinpoint malfunctions and prevent excessive pollution from vehicles.

CARB said that routine testing by the air quality agency showed that 2011 and 2012 Ford Fiesta vehicles were sold in California with non-compliant diagnostic systems and “improperly designed data link connectors.”

As a result, several emission control systems weren’t properly monitored on the vehicles. CARB investigators found multiple instances when Ford failed to disclose legally required vehicle calibration information.

Once notified about the investigation, CARB said Ford cooperated fully.

In addition to the $740,000 for the CPCFA, $2.2 million will be paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which was established to decrease air pollution through education and use of cleaner technologies.

Though most CARB financial assistance to truck owners has strict in-state requirements, the agency is considering dropping the percentage of time spent in California to around 51 percent – down from a previous requirement of 75 percent.

CARB is also planning to beef up funding opportunities for small trucking companies in response to complaints that many couldn’t meet the Truck and Bus Rule requirements without financial assistance.

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