2024 Cummins Inc. Vehicle Emission Control Violations Settlement
On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice, along with the state of California, reached a settlement agreement with Cummins, Inc. for vehicle emission control violations under the Clean Air Act. The violations stem from Cummins configuring one or more emissions software features to act as defeat devices that reduce or deactivate the vehicle engines emission controls and Cummins’ failure to disclose other software features.
The affected vehicles are model year 2013 through 2023 Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel vehicles certified by Cummins. Cummins equipped 630,000 model year 2013-2019 vehicles with illegal software defeat devices that reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal driving conditions. Additionally, Cummins failed to disclose that those 630,000 vehicles and approximately 330,000 more model year 2019-2023 vehicles included auxiliary emission control devices that Cummins did not disclose as part of the engine certification process. Altogether, the Cummins engines affected the emission control systems of nearly one million vehicles, more than any other major defeat devices settlement.
“Today’s landmark settlement is another example of the Biden-Harris administration working to ensure communities across the United States, especially those that have long been overburdened by pollution, are breathing cleaner air.” “Today we’ve reaffirmed that EPA’s enforcement program will hold companies accountable for cheating to evade laws that protect public health.” - EPA Administrator Michael Regan
Under the settlement agreement, Cummins will pay a $1.675 billion penalty, the largest civil penalty in the history of the Clean Air Act and the second largest environmental penalty ever. Additionally, Cummins will fund federal and California emission mitigation projects and the recall program for the affected vehicles at an estimated cost of over $326 million. Cummins must repair at least 85% of the vehicles within three years or face additional penalties.
“Cummins installed illegal defeat devices on more than 600,000 RAM pickup trucks, which exposed overburdened communities across America to harmful air pollution. This record-breaking Clean Air Act penalty demonstrates that EPA is committed to holding polluters accountable and ensuring that companies pay a steep price when they break the law.” - David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
The information below addresses elements of the Clean Air Act violations and settlement agreement between EPA, DOJ, the state of California and Cummins. Links to information specific to the Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel vehicle recall program and frequently asked questions are provided in the Cummins Settlement Resources box at the top of this page.
On the page:
- Vehicle Recall Information
- About Cummins, Inc.
- Overview of Clean Air Act Requirements and Violations
- Overview of Settlement Agreement
- Comment Period
- Contact Information
Vehicle Recall Information
The vehicles included in the recalls are model years 2013 through 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel vehicles. Model year 2020 – 2023 vehicles are not subject to the recalls. The recalls will ensure the vehicles comply with all the Clean Air Act’s applicable nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission standards.
Under the settlement, Cummins will implement a recall program to remove all defeat devices and replace the vehicles' software. Prior to the settlement, Cummins tested vehicles with the new software and demonstrated to EPA and California that the repaired vehicles will meet the applicable emission standards.
Additionally, Cummins must offer an extended warranty for vehicles that are repaired and must perform enhanced testing to ensure the repaired vehicles continue to meet emission standards over time.
Information on the recall program is available on EPA’s Cummins Engine Emission System Controls Recall Program web page.
About Cummins, Inc.
Cummins, Inc. is an American vehicle engine manufacturer headquartered in Columbus, Indiana. Cummins designs, manufacturers, and distributes a wide variety of vehicles and engines in the US, including both motor vehicles and nonroad engines using a range of fuel types, including diesel and natural gas. Their diesel vehicles are used on public roads nationwide. It is the EPA certificate holder for the model year 2013 through 2023 Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel vehicles.
Overview of Clean Air Act Requirements and Violations
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to demonstrate through a certification process that their products meet applicable emission standards to control air pollution. As part of the certification process, automakers are required to disclose and explain any functions, known as auxiliary emission control devices (AECDs), that can alter how a vehicle controls air pollutants.
In 2018, EPA discovered the defeat devices in Cummins's model year 2019 Ram vehicles during vehicle emission testing at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL). EPA discovered that when the vehicle was being tested for compliance with emission standards, the software activates full emission controls. During other kinds of normal operation, the vehicles’ software features reduce or deactivate emission controls, reducing the effectiveness of the vehicles' emission control systems. The result is vehicles emitting nitrogen oxides (NOx) at a much higher levels than emission standards allow.
NOx pollution contributes to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. These pollutants are associated with a range of serious health effects, including asthma attacks, respiratory illnesses, and other respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects, including damage to lung tissue and premature death.
Overview of Settlement Agreement and Penalties
The total estimated expense to Cummins under the settlement is approximately $2 billion. Cummins agreed to pay $1.642 billion as a civil penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act. The state of California’s state law claims brings the total amount of the penalties to $1.675 billion. The payment, plus interest, is due as a lump sum within 30 days of the court’s approval of the settlement agreement.
In addition to the civil environmental penalty, Cummins must pay $175 million to California’s environmental mitigation fund and spend any amount necessary to complete the recall and repair and to implement the mitigation project. The purpose of the mitigation projects is to reduce excess NOx emissions from other sources to offset the excess emissions caused by the defeat devices. The estimated cost for the injunctive relief, including the mitigation and the recall program, is approximately $326 million.
The settlement further requires Cummins to implement corporate governance, organizational, and technical process reforms to minimize the likelihood of future Clean Air Act violations.
Vehicle Recall Program
The settlement agreement requires Cummins to implement a recall and repair program to remove all defeat devices in the model year 2013 through 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 diesel vehicles and replace the vehicles' software so that they comply with EPA and California emission standards. Cummins will offer an extended warranty on all vehicles that receive one of the recalls.
Mobile source emissions are transient and difficult to attribute to any one community. Still, emissions from motor vehicles and locomotives are generally considered to have a disproportionate impact on communities that are situated near highways and railyards. Those communities are more likely to be overburdened by pollution and with potential environmental justice concerns.
The federal mitigation projects will involve repowering outdated locomotive engines with newer, cleaner technology and installing idle reduction technology. Cummins will select locomotive engines in geographically diverse locations that either were produced before EPA emissions regulations came into effect or were certified to earlier emission standards and replace them with engines certified to current standards. Cummins will also select additional locomotives on which to install idle reduction technology. These upgrades will reduce the pollution emitted from those locomotives.
The projects will include repowering 14 “road switch” locomotive engines, repowering 13 “yard switch” locomotive engines, and installing idle reduction technology on 50 “yard switch” engines at a cost of nearly $70 million.
Cummins’ $175 million payment will be used by California’s Air Resources Board to mitigate emissions in the state.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available on DOJ’s Proposed Consent Decree web page.
For more information, contact:
EPA Office of Civil Enforcement
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Mail Code 2242A
Washington, D.C. 20460