Wednesday, FCA USA released this statement in regards to a July 2 public hearing ordered by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to discuss how the automaker’s handled 20 recalls.
NHTSA Recall Scrutiny:
FCA US LLC takes seriously its commitment to provide safe vehicles that meet customer expectations for quality and workmanship. The Company is fully aligned with NHTSA’s desire to promote efficient execution of vehicle recalls and enhance completion rates. We look forward to providing a comprehensive response to NHTSA’s inquiry with respect to the cited campaigns consistent with the Company’s longstanding commitment to transparency. FCA US will continue to cooperate with NHTSA in its efforts to identify ways in which it can more quickly identify issues, determine fixes and execute campaigns.
According to a NHTSA press release issued Monday, the agency will hold the public hearing on July 2 to look into how the automaker’s handled 20 recalls dating back to 2013.
The Department of Transportation says the hearing will look into whether FCA came up with adequate fixes for defects, plus review the adequacy of the recall notices in the campaigns that included more than 10 million vehicles. If the company is found to be in “violation of requirements under U.S. auto safety laws”, it could face up to $700 million in fines and be required to buy back or replace vehicles.
“Any auto defect that compromises the safety of our driving public is unacceptable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Auto manufacturers are obligated to effectively remedy safety defects when they are discovered, and if they fail in that responsibility, we are obligated to act.”
It’s the latest chapter in ongoing tensions between the government agency and the automaker. One of the biggest points of contention is a high-profile clash over Jeep fuel tank fires. In November, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman sent Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne a strongly-worded letter saying the automaker needed to “get their act in gear” and speed up the pace of trailer hitch installations. But any improvement “hasn’t happened,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said Monday.
Another case they’ll be delving into is the Takata air bag recall. The NHTSA says it’s found problems with the way Fiat Chrysler handled the recall of 2.9 million vehicles involved in that action.
Overall, Rosekind says the agency has broad concerns about an apparent pattern of problems related to how FCA handles recalls. They’re concerned about the timeliness of FCA’s recall notifications, remedies that don’t fix the defects and low recall completion rates, Rosekind said.
“It is not enough to identify defects. Manufacturers have to fix them,” Rosekind said. “Significant questions have been raised as to whether this company is meeting its obligations to protect the drivers from safety defects, and today we are launching a process to ensure that those obligations are met.”