The troubled Ford Motor Company has admitted—through a financial filing, on Friday—that it is currently under investigation by the United States Department of Justice. The case is looking into the American carmaker’s internal emissions testing practices and is still in the “preliminary stages.”
According to Kim Pittel Ford Motor Company Vice President for Environment and Safety Engineering, “Our investigation continues into how Ford estimates road load as part of the US fuel economy and emissions certification process.”
While Ford insists that this investigation is not at all related to its potential use fo “defeat devices” (software that can deceive reglators—the very same issue that plagued Volkswagen during the Dieselgate debacle), Pittel goes on to say, “We are working with regulators and independent experts to complete a technical review as planned. The Department of Justice contacted us earlier this month to let us know that they had opened a criminal investigation.”
Now, it was February when Ford launched its voluntary internal investigation into its own emission testing practices when employees started to draw attention to any potential consistency issues. Those employees had discovered Ford might have been miscalculating “road load” when manufacturing vehicles. Road Load is a term used to describe a measurement of forces—like aerodynamic drag and tire resistance—that impact a car’s performance when driving at a constant speed on smooth and flat ground.
Ford has also disclosed a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commissin, which publicly decrees, “As previously report, the Company has become aware of a potential concern involving its US emissions certification process.”
“We voluntarily disclosed this matter to the US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on February 18, 2019, and February 21, 2019, respectively. Subsequently, the US Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the matter. In addition, we have notified a number of other states and federal agencies. We are fully cooperating with all government agencies. Because this matter is still in the preliminary stages, we cannot predict the outcome, and we cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us.”