NHTSA Questions FCA Recall Response Rate

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it will hold a public hearing on July 2 to consider whether Fiat Chrysler Automobiles “has failed to remedy safety defects and issue required notices in 20 recalls.”

The NHTSA also issued a special order to Fiat Chrysler ordering the company to provide information on its recall performance on each of the 20 recalls. The regulatory agency said the hearing will include witnesses from the NHTSA, the automaker and the public.

The NHTSA said it has identified problems and expressed concerns with the pace of repairs and the way Fiat Chrysler has administered repairs for a number of recalls.

“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,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement Monday.

Last November, the NHTSA blasted Chrysler for its slow progress on repairs of 1.56 million Jeep SUVs that have been recalled because of potentially dangerous rear-mounted gas tanks. At the time, only 3 percent of the affected Jeeps had been fixed even though the recall was initially issued in the summer of 2013.

“It is not enough to identify defects. Manufacturers have to fix them,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement Monday.

If the NHTSA determines, based on the hearing and other evidence, that the company has failed to meet its legal obligations to recall vehicles and fix them, the agency could force the automaker to take further action, including the buy-back or replacement of affected vehicles.