US: NHTSA chief favors FCA consent order image

Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recently unveiled the auto safety regulator was in talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to settle their recall dispute.

The NHTSA, itself under fire for not reacting faster to major safety crises such as the GM ignition switch debacle and the Takata airbag scandal, has targeted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the third largest US automaker and the world’s seventh biggest for the way it handled a series of recalls. While talking to the media on the sidelines of a Detroit conference on autonomous cars, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind called a settlement – known as a consent order – with FCA “would be a strong outcome if we could do that.” The safety regulator held a less traditional special public hearing on July 2 with FCA officials to call them to answer questions about a series of 23 recalls the agency claims were poorly executed and implemented. Immediately after the hearing, Rosekind said the automaker faced penalties – totaling around $700 million if found guilty.

The NHTSA official added the agency’s attorneys are also talking about a number of other penalties, from intense scrutiny and monitoring to, and including, vehicle buybacks. He added that even if they reach a settlement that includes harsh penalties and close monitoring, “it doesn’t mean that we’re done with Chrysler.” The administrator added he was encouraged by subsequent public comments from FCA chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne and other company officials about the carmaker banding closer with NHTSA.

Via Automotive News