Tested: Fiat Emissions Up to 2200% Over Legal Limit


An independent German environmental group called Deutsche Umwelthilfe recently decided to test the real-world emissions of the popular Fiat 500X SUV, too see how they matched up to the company’s own emissions claims. The result? Not only did the the 500X produce more emissions than Fiat-Chrysler claimed, it produced between 11 (eleven) and 22 (twenty-two) times the harmful emissions expected. (!)

For those you keeping score, that’s up to 2200% more harmful Fiat emissions than the copmany promised. That’s bad.


Fiat 500X Emissions 2200% Over Legal Limit


Following the much publicized and highly damaging VW emissions scandal that led to the brand all but abandoning diesel vehicle sales in the US, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) has begun testing other carmakers’ products to see how they stack up. The resulting tests have caught a few more cheaters, but few have racked up scores as high as the Fiat’s.

In terms of raw numbers, the DUH found that the Fiat emissions system tested produced 1777 mg of NOx per kilometer at its peak in the 500X. Considering the legal limit is 80 mg, it’s clear that Fiat-Chrysler might have a cheating problem.

“The extreme overruns of NOx emissions that have meanwhile been detected with an Opel Zafira, a Renault Espace, a Mercedes C class and now a Fiat SUV are technically not plausible and point towards defeat devices,” says Axel Friedrich, co-founder of the Washington-based International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) that commissioned the original investigation into Volkswagen’s deliberate diesel test-rigging.

Fiat-Chrysler has, according to the sources indicated, below, declined comment on DUH’s claims- although Fiat executives did say, on Feb 2nd, that its diesel vehicles do not carry defeat devices. The company, instead, claimed that, while emissions levels may vary depending on driving conditions, its cars’ control systems operate in the same way under the same conditions, whether in a laboratory or on the road.

If the DUH is right, I guess that means the otherwise likable Fiat 500X produces 22x the legal limit of nitrous emissions in the real world, too?

What do you guys think? Will Fiat be the next company to get caught out by independent emissions testing, or are the testers themselves getting a little over-zealous? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Sources | Images: Automotive News, via Motorpasion.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • ricksanchez1

    22x for emissions? I’m thinking there’s a bunch of Fiat executives hoping we never discover where the 500x part of the name comes from!

  • James Rowland

    This doesn’t surprise me. Real world emissions are often far higher than those on the statutory tests – which are unrepresentative of real driving and can be gamed to improve scores without breaking any rules.

    Even if Fiat did go one stage further like VW and employ a defeat device, regulators still have to prove it exists for there to be legal consequences.

    • james64ibm .

      It is still noteworthy that the older VWs with an activated defeat device produced much less NOX then a Fiat with everything – seemingly – in working order.

  • Joe Viocoe

    Not defending anyone… but NOx can be very misleading.

    NOx is one of those emissions that has more to do with engine conditions, than fuel.
    CO2 and other emissions are directly related to how much fuel is burnt. So those emissions don’t vary a whole lot unless the efficiency of the engine is drastically different.
    So if the “real world test” is within 10% of the MPG of the EPA or Euro standard cycle.. all other emissions should be within 10%.

    But NOx is a tricky beast that can go completely off the chart if you run the engine at different loads, temperature, altitude, with fuel impurities, or even a faulty sensor.
    Even if MPG is fairly close to government tests… under varying conditions, NOx can change substantially.

    It is a good thing to have independent tests… but there unless there is a “standard”, the results have little meaning.
    However, this may highlight the need for the Euro cycle to become more like real world driving.

  • PhilLC

    don’t believe everything you read. Real world emissions or fuel consumption are rarely close to those achieved in a lab and everyone knows that. The authorities should be going after trucks and the like which spew plumes of black soot – these must be a million % more than any modern diesel car and yet we still keep seeing them on our roads.

    • Everyone knows that NOW. A year ago, I think most people were fully fooled. Certainly most “non-car people” were.

      • PhilLC

        the people making all the hoopla also knew, but they have an agenda…

        • Uh-oh. I think your tin hat might be chafing.

          • PhilLC

            quite frankly, I’ve given up caring; I’m only a customer and have to trust the system – unfortunately both those who make the rules and those who are supposed to implement it are not angels – now that we know a little more we have to live with it. Hopefully the real culprits, whoever and wherever will pay.

    • Raphael Sturm

      The Fiat 500X emits more NOx than a 40 ton, Euro 6 rated truck on the on road test, which is mandatory for new trucks in Europe. And the truck moves around 40 tons, 80,000 pounds of goods, the 500XL moves 75kg of person ad 20 kg of luggage.

      • PhilLC

        οh, did anyone check that truck in real driving conditions?

        • Raphael Sturm

          Those trucks are tested in real driving conditions with portable emissions measurement systems. Those real driving emissions tests are mandatory for passing the Euro 6 standard.

          • PhilLC

            in which case, I smell something ‘fishy’; not in a million years can a dinky 2L diesel (if its the version we’re talking about, and which is also in several other FCA products) can be so much dirtier than a truck’s engine. Looks like a ‘set-up’ to me.

          • Raphael Sturm

            No, the same engine was tested several times by different organizations and it was always the dirtiest. Auto-Motor-Sport, did a test with different Euro 6 diesels, a Ford Fusion ecoboost and a Audi Q3, with the cheat engine and the Fiat 500XL the 1.6l diesel in that case, was by far the worst, it emitted more than 10 times the permitted NOx levels with the second to last place going to a Volvo XC90 with a 2l diesel(Emitting 6 times the allowed maximum). The Fiat was the smallest and lightest car and especially in city driving it emitted 4 times as much as the average diesel car in the test. And its not like other diesel cars were as clean as they should be, but the Fiat was by far the worst.

  • AaronD12

    This is why we need to stop burning fossil fuels now. We are very close to, if not at the zenith of, our abilities to squeeze the most power out of fossil fuels with the least amount of emissions. There may be fractional improvements over the years, but it ain’t enough.

    • I don’t think that’s entirely true- but for many, many other reasons: yes, I agree.

  • Sherdy

    This is the second report I’ve seen indicating that the popular Fiat 500X is about the dirtiest car on the road.
    This would normally be a cause for concern, but both test reports came from German environmental bodies I’d never heard of.
    So I wonder would there be any connection between the fact that the omnipotent VW group which includes Audi, Seat, Skoda et al were found to have actually fitted cheat devices, would someone be trying to muddy the water to give the impression ‘sure they are all cheating’ without having any proof whatever!

    • Maya Auto Gallery

      Can you point me to the other post please?

      • Sherdy

        Can’t remember the date but I read it in Automotive News Europe edition about two weeks ago.

    • You should never attribute to conspiracy what can more easily be attributed to stupidity. That said: no. No connection.

      • Sherdy

        We are talking big business and big money with political influence.
        Possibly you have led a sheltered life, Jo.

  • Raphael Sturm

    Just to add some spicy details, the little Fiat might have even succeed the 22 times, because those 22 times, or 1777mg, was the detection limit of the emissions measurement system. So it could have been even more. The car emits more NOx than a 40 ton, Euro 6, truck under the same conditions.