Bully Dog parent company to pay $6.5M to settle alleged emissions-defeating violations in light-duty trucks

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The parent company of Bully Dog, which sells software and hardware to modify heavy-duty diesel engines, will pay more than $6.5 million to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Derive Systems, created in 2014 via the merger of Bully Dog and SCT, says the charges pertain only to cars and light-duty trucks and did not encompass heavy-duty Class 8 vehicles.

The charges were brought against the company by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agencies claim that Bully Dog and sister brand SCT used their systems to defeat emissions control systems on cars and trucks.

Derive agreed to pay a $300,000 fine to the DOJ and to invest $6.25 million to bring vehicles with Bully Dog and SCT systems into compliance with EPA emissions laws. Company spokesperson Katherine French says Bully Dog and SCT systems will be updated via over-the-air tunes, meaning owners will not be required to visit a shop or take part in a recall.

In a statement to Overdrive, Derive says it entered into the agreement “to provide certainty for [its] customers.” French said the DOJ/EPA charges stem from use of products sold before the formation of Derive.

“Under the agreement, we will make investments to demonstrate environmental leadership in the automotive aftermarket industry. These include: additional emissions tests of our preloaded calibrations on new and past model year applications, developing additional training and certification programs for our custom tuning dealers, continuing to make and sell emissions compliant devices, and further investing in our policy compliance initiatives,” the company’s statement says.

Bully Dog and SCT systems retune engines’ electronic control modules to boost horsepower or improve fuel economy. However, the DOJ and EPA allege some of its products “enabled the user to easily turn off emissions controls installed and certified by vehicle manufacturers,” including removal of “emissions control components that reduce tailpipe emissions, including catalysts, diesel particulate filters, exhaust gas recirculation systems” and more.

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French says all products sold by the companies today are legal, and that Bully Dog and SCT are “permitted to [sell] and will continue selling our existing tuners and software.”

The settlement is subject to court approval.