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Fiat shares plunge on ‘cheat’ allegations

On the surface, it doesn’t seem related to Formula 1 or Ferrari, but the latter’s former parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has just been accused by a US regulator of using illegal software to potentially cheat pollution tests.

As a result of the allegations, Fiat Chrysler shares quoted in New York and Milan lost over 15% of their value at one point before recovering slightly in the afternoon.

But it may not be a Volkswagen crisis all over again for Fiat as CEO and Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne has strongly denied the allegations formulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

“I’m really pissed off,” an angry Marchionne said at a hastily-assembled press conference.

“The way that it has been described, I think, has been unfair to FCA, and that is the thing that disturbs me most.

“We have a number of control strategies that run our engines, and there’s never been any intent in putting the software in the vehicles to defraud anybody.”

  • ‘Ferrari working tirelessly’, says Marchionne

If FCA was ever found guilty of purposefully cheating on pollution emissions, and running a deceptive scheme like Volkswagen did, there’s no doubt the company would be hit with a huge fine which, in addition to the cost returning the vehicles to conformity, would have heavy impact on the group’s finances.

Although Ferrari is now a standalone company following FCA’s sale of its majority stake just over a year ago, the House of Maranello remains close to Fiat in operational terms.

It’s doubtful however that Ferrari would be financially impacted by the emergence of a subsequent scandal linked to a prosecution of FCA.

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