Ford says Justice Department has opened criminal probe into its emissions certifications

Ford has been looking into concerns that incorrect mathematical calculations could have impacted mileage and emissions data submitted to regulators.
Image: Ford F-150 pickup trucks sit on the sales lot at Serramonte Ford
Ford F-150 pickup trucks sit on the sales lot at Serramonte Ford on Feb. 23, 2011 in Colma, California.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

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/ Source: CNBC.com
By Amelia Lucas, CNBC

The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation in a matter relating to Ford's emissions certification process.

Ford made the disclosure in an SEC filing Friday. It said the company is cooperating fully with all government investigations, and has notified several state and federal agencies.

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The company also said it cannot predict the outcome of the investigation and “cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us.”

The matter stems from issues related to road load estimations, including analytical modeling and physical track testing. Road load is a vehicle-specific resistance level that helps determine fuel economy ratings and emissions certifications. It does not involve the use of defeat devices to cheat on emissions tests.

“Our focus is on completing our investigation and a thorough technical review of this matter and cooperating with government and regulatory agencies,” Kim Pittel, Ford’s vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said in a statement.

Ford voluntarily disclosed the issue to the Environmental Protection Agency on Feb. 18 and the California Air Resources Board on Feb 21. Ford has hired outside experts to investigate its vehicle fuel economy and testing procedures after employees raised concerns. Since last fall, Ford has been looking into concerns that incorrect mathematical calculations could have impacted mileage and emissions data submitted to regulators.

Since 2015, U.S. and California regulators have cracked down on automakers who cheat on emissions testing after Volkswagen’s use of defeat devices became public knowledge.

The automaker’s stock is up 6.8 percent in premarket trading after it reporting quarterly earnings that topped expectations.