During an unprecedented public hearing, NHTSA said that FCA has widespread problems with the way it conducts vehicle recalls, also saying that the company has misled safety regulators and violated laws.
NHTSA looked at almost two dozen vehicle recalls that affect nearly 11 million vehicles and found numerous examples of FCA not notifying owners or NHTSA properly, not having enough replacement parts, not recalling vehicles in a timely fashion and implementing recall repairs that did not fix the original issue. NHTSA points to one case where FCA suspended a recall and requested that dealers return replacement parts for quality verification without notifying the agency.
Owners in some recalls have waited up to 18 months for replacement parts says NHTSA.
NHTSA is likely to find that Fiat Chrysler did not follow the law. “They’ll be action soon after the docket closes,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “The information was so clear.” The investigation will officially close on July 17, after which the decision will be announced.
There are a few ways this could go. NHTSA and FCA could enter a consent order to settle the allegations, which will likely include fines. Or NHTSA will announce its determinations and FCA will challenge it. NHTSA has plenty of power in this situation and could order FCA to buyback any vehicle the agency deems unsafe due to a failed recall. The agency can also levy a $35 million fine for each recall that violated laws.
During the hearing, FCA’s senior VP for vehicle safety and regulatory affairs Scott Kunselman admitted that the company has “fallen short” in its recall procedures. “Some of the things we’ve done were sloppy. We had absolutely no misintent,” Kunselman told The Detroit News after the hearing.
“We have serious concerns with Fiat Chrysler notifications to owners and to NHTSA about its recalls. In every one of the 23 recalls, we have identified ways in which Fiat Chrysler failed to do its job,” Jennifer Timina, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation chief said. “Problems with the information that Fiat Chrysler reports — or in many cases, fails to report — to NHTSA are also widespread.”
[Source: The Detroit News]