A secret meeting between Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood averted the clash between the automaker and NHTSA over the Jeep recall.

The secret meeting between Marchionne and LaHood took place on June 9th, at a Chicago airport, six days after NHTSA asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million Jeeps, citing 51 deaths caused by fires in rear-impact crashes. The agency said that the fires were caused by ruptured gas tanks located behind the vehicles’ rear axle.

Marchionne said that he will not make the recall as the vehicles are safe and don’t have any safe defect. A formal hearing was seen as the only solution regarding this issue, and a possible court battle. LaHood, who will step down from his position at the end of this month, told journalists how he convinced Marchionne to make the recall.

“I said, ‘I want to find out if Sergio is involved in these decisions,’” LaHood said. LaHood suggested the three meet in person. “We need to figure this out,” he told Marchionne.

On June 9th, Marchionne, LaHood and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland met at the Federal Aviation Administration office at O’Hare International Airport and Tuesday, Marchionne announced it will recall 2.7 million Jeeps, which will be fitted with a trailer hitch assembly to protect the gas tanks.

“Once he (Marchionne) met with David and I in Chicago, he knew this had to get done,” LaHood said. “(Marchionne) didn’t realize how serious this was, how serious we were, and the thing was resolved satisfactorily. …. We pretty much reached an agreement there.”

Source: The Detroit News


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