Cummins gets huge fine for selling emission fraud devices

American powertrain manufacturer Cummins has to pay almost $1,7 billion as a fine for selling devices that can bypass emissions sensors. The US Department of Justice sees this as a direct violation of the Clean Air Act and has imposed a fine, which is the second-largest in the history of the Act, which was installed in 1963.

Cummins is said to have installed emissions defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of Ram pickup trucks. Ram has built and sold 630 000 2500 and 3500 pickups that featured defeat devices between 2013 and 2019.

It is also supposed to have included auxiliary emission control devices on an additional 330 000 2500 and 3500 pickups for 2019 to 2023 model-year vehicles. Until now, Cummins has admitted that some things were wrong, but it hasn’t admitted to the full scope of the issues.

Fraud devices

The Clean Air Act was passed in 1963 to better regulate the manufacture of engines for vehicles because of emissions limits. It also means that manufacturers can’t equip their engines with so-called ‘defeat devices’ that render emissions control sensors inoperable.

The parallel with what has been known as ‘dieselgate’ is obvious. In September 2015, the dieselgate scandal broke out in the US and spread worldwide. Until now, the Volkswagen Group has spent approximately €33 billion on fines and compensations in a scandal that isn’t entirely over yet.

“The types of devices we allege that Cummins installed in its engines to cheat federal environmental laws have a significant and harmful impact on people’s health and safety,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a statement.

“For example, in this case, our preliminary estimates suggest that defeat devices on some Cummins engines have caused them to produce thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides. The cascading effect of those pollutants can, over long-term exposure, lead to breathing issues like asthma and respiratory infections.”

Cummins agreed with the Justice Department and is prepared to pay $1,675 billion (€1,51 billion) as a fine to compensate for its fraud. The only more significant environmental penalty ever claimed in the US until now came as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, when BP spilled 3,19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.


Cummins Inc. is a corporation of complementary business segments designing, manufacturing, distributing, and servicing a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products include diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains, and powertrain-related components.

They include filtration, after-treatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, control systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, axles, drivelines, brakes, suspension systems, electric power generation systems, batteries, electrified power systems, electric powertrains, hydrogen production, and fuel cell products.

Cummins is headquartered in Columbus, Indiana (US), since its founding in 1919. Cummins employs approximately 73 600 people worldwide. In 2022, it earned about $2,2 billion on sales of $28,1 billion.


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