Ford facing U.S. criminal probe into emissions testing

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into Ford Motor Co.’s emissions certification process, the automaker disclosed two months after fessing up to an issue with its testing.

Ford, the latest automaker to come under scrutiny for adherence to U.S. emissions standards, is fully cooperating with all government agencies, the automaker said Friday in a regulatory filing. The company said that because the matter is still at a preliminary stage, it can’t predict the outcome or assure investors it won’t have a material impact on the company.

Ford potentially faces significant financial penalties as regulators have taken a tough line on emissions issues.

Ford revealed in February that it had adopted a flawed approach to using road-load specifications to simulate how aerodynamic drag and tire friction can affect fuel economy outside testing labs. It has hired an outside outside law firm, Sidley Austin, and experts to help conduct an investigation that could stretch into the summer.

When Ford disclosed the issue in February, the automaker said “there’s been no determination that this affects Ford’s fuel economy labels or emissions certifications."

The Justice Department notified the company of its investigation this month, Kim Pittel, Ford's group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, said in a statement. The Justice Department declined to comment on the Ford probe.

The investigation doesn’t involve the use of so-called “defeat devices" that VW was found to be using to game emissions testing, Pittel said.

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