The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration extended the “probationary” period it applied to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for another year for past failures to identify and address safety-related problems with its vehicles.
FCA U.S. LLC acknowledged that NHTSA is exercising its option to renew the monthly submissions and monthly meetings outlined in a consent order, which FCA signed one year ago, for an additional year of government oversight.
As stated in NHTSA’s letter to Fiat Chrysler, “NHTSA’s exercise of its option to renew these requirements is not based on a concern about FCA’s performance to date, but rather to facilitate continued communication between FCA and NHTSA on potential defect issues.”
In July 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles acknowledged violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act’s requirements to repair vehicles with safety defects and will submit to rigorous federal oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and agreed to a $105 million civil penalty, the largest ever imposed by NHTSA.
The enforcement action followed hearings at which NHTSA officials outlined problems with Fiat Chrysler’s execution of 23 vehicle safety recalls covering more than 11 million defective vehicles. Fiat Chrysler has since admitted to violating the Safety Act in three areas: effective and timely recall remedies, notification to vehicle owners and dealers and notifications to NHTSA.
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Fiat Chrysler, which is facing potential problems due to inflated monthly sales reports, agrees that the monthly meetings, and the information provided in connection with those meetings, have been very effective and productive.
“We hope these meetings, and the transparency of the information shared, has demonstrated FCA US’ commitment to meeting and exceeding the requirements of the Consent Order. We are intent on continuing to build our relationship with NHTSA as we embrace our leadership role in the industry as a public safety advocate,” FCA said in a statement.
FCA US also noted its commitment to timely reporting of possible safety problems is strong, adding the maker hosted the inaugural Automotive Safety Recall Best Practices Summit this past May. The conference allowed for the sharing of best practices for recall execution and presented research on obstacles that discourage consumers from responding to recall notices.
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“As part of our focus to lead best practices in vehicle safety – including industry education and outreach – we will continue to work with NHTSA and the industry to create meaningful changes that will bring long-lasting improvements in vehicle safety for our customers,” FCA said.
Fiat Chrysler is still grappling with a growing scandal over inflated sales totals that is creating uncertainty around its sales figures both in the past and in the future. FCA acknowledged this week that its eye catching string of 75 monthly sales increase actually came to an end three years ago.
The inflated numbers have led to lawsuits by a number of dealers and prompted an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has yet to determine whether the figures were reported by mistake or inflated deliberately.
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So far Chrysler has denied any wrong doing. Nor have any executives been disciplined for the inflated sales figures.