Today, June 18th, Chrysler is expected to file papers in which it explains its refusal to recall 2.7 million Jeep SUVs.
According to the NHTSA 51 people have died in Jeep Grand Cherokees and Liberty vehicles which had the gas tanks fitted behind the rear axles. Chrysler says that the vehicles are as safe as any other cars on the road and the Jeeps have met the imposed federal safety standards 20 years ago when they were built.
It is quite unusual for an automaker not to comply with NHTSA’s decision. The last time an automaker denied the agency’s recall request was in 2011 when Ford said that it was not justified to recall 1.2 million pickup trucks due to defective air bags. When NHTSA threatened it will hold a rare public hearing on the issue, the US automaker decided to make the recall anyway.
At the beginning of this month NHTSA sent a letter to Chrysler asking the automaker to recall Grand Cherokees from 1993 through 2004 and Libertys from 2002 through 2007, as their plastic gas tanks can broke when hit from behind, causing the fuel to spill and lead to deadly fires. Chrysler said that the Jeep is one of the safest vehicle in their time.
“I think cooler heads will eventually prevail,” said David Kelly, former acting NHTSA administrator, adding that neither side wants the matter aired in public. “Chrysler doesn’t want to have a hearing with a bunch of people who have been in crashes and have lost family members.”