The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has fined Ford Motor Company $2.96 million for violations of air-quality laws related to the sale of vehicles with non-compliant On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) systems in California.
OBD systems constantly monitor critical engine and emission control system operations, alert drivers to problems and provide service technicians detailed information that can be used to quickly and accurately pinpoint malfunctions causing operational problems and excessive pollution from vehicles. The systems are a key part of California’s efforts to reduce pollution caused by malfunctioning vehicles.
Routine testing by ARB found that Ford Fiesta vehicles (2011 and 2012 model years) were sold in California with non-compliant diagnostic systems and improperly designed data link connectors. An ARB press release described the problem thusly:
“These systems were found to not properly monitor the function of several key emissions-control systems, including the catalytic converter and fuel system. The data link problems discovered by ARB staff make use of the OBD system more difficult by Smog Check inspectors and independent service providers using widely available diagnostic tools. Staff also found there were several instances of failure by Ford to disclose all legally required vehicle calibration information essential to determining the effectiveness and compliance of the OBD system.”
$740,000 of the fine will go to the California Pollution Control Financing Authority (CPCFA), which provides financial assistance to projects aimed at reducing pollution and waste and encouraging the use of renewable energy. The funds will be used to assist small business owners in financing retrofits or upgrades of heavy-duty diesel trucks or buses to meet California’s clean air regulations. According to official estimates, the money will support loans for roughly 90 clean-diesel vehicles.
“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,” said State Treasurer and Chair of CPCFA Bill Lockyer. ARB’s Chief Hebert added that “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.”
The remaining $2.22 million dollars will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which works to decrease air pollution through education and the advancement and use of cleaner technologies.
This year has seen a number of companies fined for failure to meet environmental regulations: ARB fined Chevron and Southwest Gas close to $1 million for late or inaccurate reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions for 2011; last month, Lowe's was ordered to pay $18 million for illegally disposing hazardous waste including pesticides, batteries, fluorescent bulbs and other toxic materials; and Unilever was fined $1 million and agreed to contribute $3.5 million to state and local environmental programs for two counts of violating the Clean Water Act at its former manufacturing facility in Clinton, CT.