The US auto safety regulators have started turning up the heat on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the third largest US automaker, as they strive to amend the way the company is currently handling certain recalls.
The running battle escalated further this week as the Obama administration run agency said it might impose “multiple penalties” on the automaker even impose a public hearing to discuss FCA’s handling of no less than 20 safety campaigns that spread across at least 10 million autos. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it could hit Fiat Chrysler, the world’s seventh largest carmaker, with fines of up to $700 million and also impose the necessity to buy back or replace vehicles if the officials find evidence the company didn’t live up to its legal obligations in handling the recalls. According to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, the agency would also call up a broad public hearing after attempts by the agency to determine the automaker to speed up its defect correction campaigns that involve fire, loss of control, airbag deployments and fuel leak defects.
FCA US in turn replied they would fully cooperate with the NHTSA and pointed out that its average recall completion rate is currently above the industry average. The safety campaigns under consideration involve models as old as the 1993 model year, with some of the most profitable vehicles the company builds included. The recalls also involve the fiery safety campaign of almost 1.6 million older Jeeps that have fuel tanks prone to rupture and fire – a case involving such a model was recently won by a victims’ family, with FCA having to pay a record $150 million.