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By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co <F.N> said Wednesday Canadian officials have opened a preliminary investigation into the automaker's emissions certification process.
Ford said in its annual report Environment and Climate Change Canada has opened a probe into the matter after the automaker disclosed early last year that the U.S. Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the issue.
In February 2019, Ford disclosed an issue with emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators. Ford hired an outside law firm and experts to investigate its vehicle fuel economy and testing procedures after employees raised concerns about analytical modeling that is part of its fuel economy and emissions compliance process.
Ford did not immediately comment on the status of its investigation of its U.S. emissions certification process. Ford has said the "potential concern" does not involve the use of defeat devices. Environment Canada also did not immediately comment.
The company said Wednesday in its has notified a "number of other state and federal agencies" about the issue and continues "to cooperate fully with these government agencies."
In April, Reuters reported Ford had held meetings with the California Air Resources Board and EPA and turned over documents related to its review and had submitted a testing plan that has been approved by regulators, citing a person briefed on the matter.
Ford potentially faces significant financial penalties as regulators have taken a tough line on emissions issues. Ford has said it does not know whether it would have to correct data provided to regulators or consumers.
U.S. and California regulators have been cracking down on automakers for emissions cheating following revelations in 2015 that German automaker Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.DE> had used defeat devices to make models equipped with diesel engines appear to comply with emissions standards when they emitted far more pollution than allowed in real-world driving.
In January 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI> agreed to an $800 million settlement to resolve claims by the U.S. Justice Department and the state of California that it used illegal software to produce false results on diesel-emissions tests. A criminal investigation is pending.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)