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Chrysler Recall / Parts Reform

by David Zatz on

Today, testimony with the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), FCA was sharply criticized for the way it handled recalls — including failing to have replacement parts ready for dealers — both by NHTSA and by its own leader of safety.

The company has not met legal deadlines for reporting recalls to the agency or to customers, as well as not providing required information properly.

Scott Kunselman

To combat the problem, FCA’s chief of safety and regulatory compliance, Scott Kunselman — a longtime Chrysler veteran — said that Auburn Hills had thoroughly changed the way it works, after an internal review. Mr. Kunselman reports directly to the CEO, Sergio Marchionne, while safety was previously handled by a product development manager three levels below the CEO.

In addition, Mr. Kunselman said that a culture change was needed and under way. FCA has started new customer outreach strategies on July 1, including adding recall alerts to its phone apps, adding staffing to the phone centers, and better training at dealerships.

Mr. Kunselman will be replying to NHTSA’s specific charges, related to no fewer than 23 recall campaigns, within ten days, in writing, as per the rules.  At stake are $35 million in penalties per campaign, and being forced to buy back recalled cars — and an NHTSA spokesman has made it clear that Chrysler will face penalties, regardless of remedial actions.

After discovering that other automakers, allegedly starting with the well-publicized Toyota case, were concealing problems, NHTSA has come under increasingly harsh criticism. Some observers believe FCA, with relatively low political clout, has been singled out to make a point.

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