The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has called Fiat Chrysler to appear at a public hearing tomorrow, July 2, 2015, to address safety concerns. The administration says the Michigan automaker didn’t issue recalls fast enough to address key safety issues.
The NHTSA is in charge of monitoring automotive manufacturers selling cars in the United States to make sure they build their cars safely and respond to reports of defects appropriately. But according to the NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler hasn’t done either. According to a public notice released ahead of tomorrow’s hearing:
“NHTSA has tentatively concluded that Fiat Chrysler has not remedied vehicles in a reasonable time and has not adequately remedied vehicles.”
At the public hearing, Fiat Chrysler will have to answer how it met its duty to send vehicle owners notice of safety issues and recalls. At issue are 22 safety campaigns, including 20 different recalls applying to 11 million vehicles. The recalls cover everything from ignition switches to fuel tanks, airbags to axles. Some of the safety issues could affect the way Fiat Chrysler vehicles steer, brake, and handle.
This isn’t the first time that the NHTSA has called Fiat Chrysler out for safety issues. After the administration sent the automaker 12 pages of questions earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler provided over 5 million pages of safety documents. The manufacturer asserts that this documentation eliminated the need for any hearing. According to Fiat Chrysler spokesperson Eric Mayne:
“The initiatives described in our response to NHTSA’s Special Order reflect a deep commitment to thorough investigation and the timely remedy of safety defects. . . . While this commitment has helped FCA US LLC achieve positive results, we will not be satisfied until we firmly re-establish the trust our customers place in us.”
But the mountain of documents does not explain why Fiat Chrysler failed to notify owners of safety concerns within the 60-day window provided by the NHTSA. In one case, notices in an airbag recall were over five months late. In at least 2 recalls, notices have yet to go out at all.
If the NHTSA isn’t satisfied with Fiat Chrysler’s responses at the Washington hearing scheduled for 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, the administration could require the automaker to pay over $700 million in fines and to replace or buy back defective vehicles.
By failing to provide prompt recall notices to its auto owners, Fiat Chrysler put millions of drivers at risk. Accidents caused by these defective vehicles could cost motorists thousands of dollars, and even their lives.
Attorney Dani K. Libliang of The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., is an auto accident attorney with a passion for protecting the victims of automotive defects. If you or someone you know has been in a serious auto accident, contact The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., today for a free consultation.