According to an official document that has been seen by Reuters, US auto safety officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have “tentatively concluded” that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has several issues to respond to in terms of safety campaign practices.
The draft document sees FCA inadequately covering safety issues in a timely manner, notify the drivers of the affected autos or assist the federal regulators in shedding light about ongoing defects. The official draft should soon be published as a notice in the Federal Register and contains some of the most strongly worded language from NHTSA officials – it’s also adding another two recalls to the 20 already to be scrutinized at a public hearing scheduled for July 2. The NHTSA could force the automaker to pay at least $700 million in fines and also compel the company to replace or repurchase vehicles it the regulators contend they didn’t comply with their recall obligations. The questionable safety campaigns to be reviewed span 11 million autos, among them the 1.5 million Jeeps that were brought back to service in June 2013 because they could catch fire when struck from behind. NHTSA claims that at the end of April 2015 the automaker only repaired 320,000 units, about 21 percent of the recall total.
The notice also covered FCA US’s failure to notify motorists about issues in two previously unknown cases – in one instance the carmaker “did not notify owners for over five months” about their vehicles being equipped with airbag inflators produced by Japan’s Takata – which are prone to rupture.