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FCA to Testify in Recall Hearing

by Bill Cawthon on

In the latest volley in a long-running battle over recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to testify in a public hearing in Washington on July 2, 2015.

According to a statement released yesterday by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the NHTSA wants to determine whether “Fiat Chrysler has failed to remedy safety defects and issue required notices in 20 recalls.”

NHTSA-Jeep-Liberty-Recall-Web

The NHTSA will ask for testimony about the company’s performance in each recall. Testifying will be members of the NHTSA staff, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the public.

If the NHTSA determines that Fiat Chrysler has not met the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, it can order actions  “to improve the company’s performance,” which could include the forced buy-back or replacement of affected vehicles.

Foxx said in the statement, “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.”

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind added, “It is not enough to identify defects. Manufacturers have to fix them… 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.”

The situation has been recently exacerbated by a Georgia verdict in a case involving a 1993 Grand Cherokee that the NHTSA itself said did not pose a safety issue. The filing of a similar case in Michigan was announced last week; the company claims the owner of a Jeep Liberty was notified of a recall last year but, according to reports at the time, did not have had the vehicle repaired before it was involved in a fatal crash.

The safety agency said it has received complaints about parts availability, lack of notification, difficulty scheduling service, and misinformation from dealers.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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