US: NHTSA sheds some light on FCA buyback program image

The US auto safety regulator on Sunday slapped Fiat Chrysler with the highest fine on record and also forced the company under a consent order to embark on a never before seen buyback program of defective vehicles.

But consumers that have Ram pickups or Dodge sport utility vehicles and are part of the unprecedented buyback program imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been finding very hard the information about the new program. Owners of Dodge SUVs and Ram pickups wanting to know if their vehicle was eligible under the buyback program have been finding it difficult to get information, with dealers even telling customers the media finds about recalls before them. The buyback program is just one part of the consent order that also includes the record $105 million fine and the automaker has been slapped for 23 recalls of more than eleven million autos.

The NHTSA was asked to detail the buyback program. First off, owners need to be a little patient, because the order compels FCA to notify the affected motorists within 60 days and in the mean time the regulator and the automaker will have the time to come up with the detailed procedures. FCA will be required to pay the vehicle owners for the vehicles so the recipients will have no restrictions on how they use the proceeds. The value of the vehicle will be determined through the “refund of the purchase price paid by the first purchaser of the vehicle for purposes other than resale, less a reasonable allowance for depreciation, and not including the cost of modifications made to the vehicle after the first retail sale.” FCA should also add a premium of 10 percent on top of that purchase price to all owners of the vehicles that have not been repaired.