Digging In: Chrysler Group Won't Recall 2.7 Million Jeeps as Prompted by NHTSA

By Trevor Dorchies | June 04, 2013
Usually, when the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration asks an automaker to recall a certain vehicle and repair a widespread problem, the automaker obliges. Not this time though. Today, we've learned that the NHTSA asked Chrysler Group to recall certain Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models, to which the Auburn Hills-based automaker simply said no. In all, the NHTSA's recommended recall would cover 2.7 million Grand Cherokee and Liberty models over concerns of the fuel systems causing unwarranted issues in the event of a rear-end collision. The Grand Cherokees in question were produced between 1993 and 2004 while the Liberty models also covered by this recall were made from 2002 to 2007. The reason behind Chrysler Group's unwillingness to cooperate stems from the data it has been sharing with the NHTSA about this issue as far back as 2010. In a prepared statement, Chrysler Group said it didn't agree with the NHTSA's decision to launch a recall and wanted to work to find a resolution that's beneficial (and fair) to all parties involved. "The company does not agree with NHTSA's conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective," Chrysler Group said in the statement. "We believe NHTSA's initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the agency to resolve this disagreement," the statement said.
In a separate report, Chrysler Group says its research concluded that a fire would only erupt because of these faulty fuel systems "less than one time for every million years of vehicle operation." The NHTSA would argue that point though, saying that its own research concluded that "numerous fire-related deaths and injuries” were the result of these defective fuel systems found on the Grand Cherokee and Liberty. The pressure is only expected to build against Chrysler Group as renown safety advocate Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety, wrote to the NHTSA last month about this becoming a widespread issue. In the letter, Ditlow said that the Federal Highway Administration and the Center's testing revealed that the Grand Cherokee encountered a major fuel system failure during a rear-end collision. On top of that, Ditlow asked the NHTSA to implement a mandatory recall if Chrysler continues to be uncooperative. However, Chrysler thinks a mandatory recall can be avoided, and hopes to work with the NHTSA to find a mutually beneficial solution. "We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this disagreement," said Chrysler Group in a statement. This situation is a fluid one and as soon as we get more details, we'll pass them along. Stay tuned. Source: Automotive News (subscription required), Chrysler Group