German minister slams Fiat for not showing up at emissions meeting

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has criticized Italian carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for not showing up for a meeting on Thursday to discuss emissions irregularities of its diesel vehicles.

The Fiat logo is pictured at a car dealership at Motor Village in Los Angeles, California October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The company was expected to attend the meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue, but Fiat canceled the appointment by sending a lawyer’s letter, Dobrindt said in a statement.

“This uncooperative behavior of Fiat is completely incomprehensible,” the minister said, adding there were concrete allegations about irregular emissions of Fiat cars.

An investigating committee of the ministry has doubts on whether Fiat is meeting all requirements of type-approval legislation for its vehicles, he noted.

“It would be appropriate if Fiat would take a stand on this in front of the investigating committee,” Dobrindt said.

The German KBA authority will now send documentation with measurement results to its Italian counterpart. “The Italian authorities must consider whether the rules have been respected,” Dobrindt said.

In Rome, Italian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said German authorities should address the issue by contacting Italian car regulators and not the company directly.

Delrio said he had sent a letter to Dobrindt, making clear that discussion on Fiat vehicles emissions must take place between the two national emissions authorities.

Fiat is among several carmakers that is currently under scrutiny for emission levels of its cars.

On Wednesday, Dobrindt said that General Motors’ Opel division admitted that its Zafira model includes engine software that switches off exhaust treatment systems under certain circumstances, but the company said this is legal.

A German investigating committee that met Opel officials asked them to provide it with more information to help with their investigations into carbon dioxide emissions (CO2).

The case is distinct from the emissions case involving German carmaker Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE, which concerned the rigging of exhaust emissions tests as opposed to exhaust treatment systems being shut down under certain conditions.

VW has announced a 4.1 billion euro ($4.60 billion) operating loss for 2015 after making huge provisions to cover the cost of clearing up the scandal.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Rome; Editing by Bernard Orr