Federal safety regulators levied a $70 million fine on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for failure to adequately report safety issues in cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hit Fiat Chrysler with the fine for under-reporting vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries tied to its cars and trucks.
The new fine is in addition to an earlier $70 million fine from earlier this year related to improper handling of 23 recalls involving 11 million vehicles. That fine also required the automakers to pay $20 million more to educate the industry about proper recall practices and creates a $15 million reserve in case it didn’t make proper improvements itself.
“We need Fiat Chrysler and other automakers to move toward a stronger, more proactive safety culture, and when they fall short, we will continue to exercise our enforcement authority to set them on the right path,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
Fiat Chrysler issued a statement saying it accepts the penalty “and is revising its processes to ensure regulatory compliance.” It adds that it is “confident that it identified and addressed all issues that arose during the relevant time period, using alternate data sources.”
The penalty is another example of NHTSA taking a harder line against automakers in the wake of high-profile recall scandals such as Toyota’s recalls for unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010 and General Motors’ recalls of millions of cars for faulty ignition switches in 2014.
In September, NHTSA said it had notified Fiat Chrysler about discrepancies in the crash data provided by FCA suggesting that the automaker had underreported the accidents.
“This represents a significant failure to meet a manufacturer’s safety responsibilities,” NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said at the time.
Under federal law, automakers are required to electronically submit massive amounts of data involving vehicle crashes, deaths, lawsuits, warranty claims and other information.
In January, Honda agreed to pay a $70 million fine for failing to disclose more than 1,700 reports of deaths, injuries and other “early warning” information to NHTSA. At the time, that fine was the largest ever levied by NHTSA.
Rosekind said in September said that the preliminary investigation into Fiat Chrysler’s underreported crashes suggested the issue was caused by problems with the software used to gather and report the information rather than an intentional deception.