In an unprecedented, yet risky move, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker Chrysler announced that they will not be complying with the federal safety regulator’s Jeep recall request. The request comes after an investigation with the United States Transportation department, which has been conducted with the automaker for the past three years.
More specifically, Chrysler stated that they had received the request to recall the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as the 2003-2007 Jeep Liberty. In all, over 2.7 million vehicles would be impacted.
The reason for the recall stems from the NHTSA’s conclusive findings that the Grand Cherokee’s fuel tank was in a compromising position, leaving it susceptible to a fuel leak in the event of a rear-end collision. A fuel leak could increase the risk of a fire.
However, Chrysler maintains that the federal agency’s findings are inconclusive, stating that they were based on incidents that occurred less than once per every million years of vehicle production. In an 13-page letter, the NHTSA countered with citing the fact that 51 people involved in a rear-end collison had died. Although they stated that fires were involved in most of the accidents, they did not differentiate between the two.
With that being said, Chrysler insists that the SUVs in question are as safe as any other comparable vehicle on the road, with Fiat Chairman Sergio Marchionne stating that “the company stands behind the quality of its vehicles.” He went on to say that “All of us remain committed to continue working with NHTSA to provide information confirming the safety of these vehicles.”
If Chrysler does not respond to the NHTSA’s request by June 18, then the federal agency can hold a public hearing. If the issue has not been resolved by then, the Administrator of the NHTSA (David Strickland) could ultimately make the final decision, and force Chrysler to comply with the recall. Although they have the right to challenge the decision in federal court, they may also be forced to issue letters out to registered owners, stating that they are refusing to comply with the NHTSA’s recall order.
Will there be a Jeep recall? Ultimately, the federal agency usually wins out in matters such as this, and it would be in Chrysler’s best interest to go ahead and comply…if for nothing else, to avoid any negative publicity, similar to what Toyota has faced since 2010. In addition to this recall request, the NHTSA had recently concluded their investigation into the 2012 Jeep Patriot crossover, with the federal agency having been satisfied with the additional vehicles not needing to be included in the recall for saddle fuel tanks with malformed tubes.
If the NHTSA is successful in their request, it would be the latest Jeep recall to affect the popular division. The last time they refused a recall request was back in 1997.
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