Reporting Jeff Gilbert
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AUBURN HILLS (WWJ) - Chrysler says it will not recall 2.7 million Jeep vehicles, despite a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA has been investigating a number of Jeep vehicles for nearly three years. There had been 15 complaints of deaths linked to fires in rear end collisions. On Monday night, the government sent a letter asking Chrysler to recall Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 1993 to 2004 model years and Jeep Liberties from 04 to 07.
But Chrysler says it’s done a thorough investigation of the vehicles, and believes they are safe, and not defective.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says they believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on incomplete analysis of the underlying data.
“The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the first priority for Chrysler brands and that commitment remains steadfast,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC.
“The company stands behind the quality of its vehicles. All of us remain committed to continue working with NHTSA to provide information confirming the safety of these vehicles.”
A statement from Chrysler states the vehicles involved meet or exceed all applicable federal safety standards. Chrysler says its own internal investigation indicates the vehicles only have an incident every one million miles of operations.
There’s been no comment yet from NHTSA. They could challenge Chrysler’s decision, which could lead to a lengthy court showdown.
It’s been two years since a car company tried to challenge a recall.
“Chrysler’s pushback of NHTSA’s request to recall certain Jeep vehicle is not only rare, but quite bold,” says Edmunds.com analyst Michelle Krebs.
Krebs says Chrysler’s challenge runs counter to car companies recent policies of considering recalls just a cost of doing business.
“What we have been seeing since the Toyota recalls, and Toyota has been accused of dragging its feet on recalls, that automakers have been very quick to take action.”
But, Jim Hall, who’s managing partner of the auto consulting firm 2953 Analytics says it could cost a lot of money to recall 2.7 million vehicles, many that are more than a decade old.
“There are no free recalls.”
Chrysler has set up a customer care line for those who have questions: 1 800 334-9200.
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