SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of settlements today with companies based in California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington state that had illegally sold “defeat device” products throughout the United States that altered vehicle emissions control systems. These products are designed to “defeat” emissions controls, enabling increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health issues. Distribution and sale of defeat devices are violations of the Clean Air Act.
“Defeat devices enable more air pollution from vehicles to the detriment of Americans’ health, and EPA is vigilant about holding accountable the entities that sell these illegal products,” said Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “These settlements demonstrate EPA’s commitment to enforcing critical environmental laws that protect clean air and public health.”
- Diamond Eye Manufacturing, Inc. (Athena, Ore.) sold 33,134 parts between 2017 and 2019 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. As conditions of a settlement with EPA, Diamond Eye confirmed that it has destroyed its inventory of illegal parts and notified its customers of the settlement and that the company no longer provides technical support or honors warranty claims for the illegal parts. The company will post on its website for eight weeks an announcement of the settlement and pay a $265,000 penalty.
- Competition Specialties, Inc. (Auburn, Wash.) sold 227 parts or components between 2018 and 2020 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. The company paid a penalty of $225,368.
- Maxon Auto Corp. (Chino, Calif.) sold 867 parts or components between 2018 and 2021 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. The company paid a penalty of $120,000.
- Maxon Performance Parts Corp. (Pennsauken, N.J.) sold 148 parts or components between 2019 and 2021 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. The company paid a penalty of $30,000.
- Remus Technology, Inc. (Emeryville, Calif.) sold over 900 aftermarket exhaust systems for motor vehicles from 2017 to 2018 that required the removal of catalytic converters. The company paid a $40,000 penalty.
- SHJY Trading Corp. (Walnut, Calif.) sold 1,547 parts or components between 2018 and 2021 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. The company paid a penalty of $15,000.
- WX Trading Corp. (Walnut, Calif.) sold 1,391 parts or components between 2018 and 2021 that allowed for the removal of a vehicle’s emission control components. The company paid a penalty of $15,000.
Except for Competition Specialties, Inc., the companies each paid or will pay a reduced penalty because of a demonstrated inability to pay a higher amount.
Stopping the sale of aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines is one of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives. According to a study by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, known sales of defeat devices for certain diesel trucks after 2009 and before 2020 resulted in more than 570,000 tons of excess NOx and 5,000 tons of excess particulate matter over the lifetime of the trucks.
The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to set standards for emissions from a variety of types of vehicles and engines. Required emission controls often include filters and catalysts installed in the vehicles or engines’ exhaust systems, as well as calibrations that manage fueling strategy and other operations in the engines themselves. Federal law prohibits tampering with emissions controls, as well as manufacturing, selling, and installing aftermarket devices intended to defeat those controls.
The EPA has found numerous companies and individuals that have manufactured and sold both hardware and software specifically designed to defeat required emissions controls on vehicles and engines used on public roads as well as on nonroad vehicles and engines. Illegally modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by the EPA, tribes, states, and local agencies to plan for and attain air quality standards.
On August 1, Roseville, Calif.-based Sinister Mfg. Company, Inc., pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court in Sacramento, California, and agreed to pay a total of $1 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. The company also agreed to implement a compliance program and to not manufacture, sell or install any device that defeats a vehicle’s emissions controls. Additionally, an official for Fiat Chrysler corporation pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act by misrepresenting information on vehicle emissions, fuel efficiency and compliance with U.S. emission standards.