Facing a possible recall totaling around 2.7 million of its most popular SUVs, Chrysler remains insistent that the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty are safe vehicles. This comes on the heels of a recall request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for these two models due to fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axle, which could possibly be ruptured during severe rear-end collisions, leading to an increased risk of fire. In response to the allegations, Chrysler says that it does not agree with NHTSA nor does it plan on recalling either vehicle.

Chrysler said both SUVs "met and exceeded" the requirements for fuel-system integrity, and cooperated fully with NHTSA since the investigation was opened in 2010. While 15 deaths and 46 injuries have been reported from fires caused by rear-end collisions on these models, Chrysler is claiming that the vast majority of incidents cited by NHTSA were "high-energy crashes," including one where a stopped Grand Cherokee was rear-ended by a tractor trailer going 65 miles per hour.

The automaker wraps up by saying "NHTSA seems to be holding Chrysler Group to a new standard for fuel tank integrity that does not exist now and did not exist when the Jeep vehicles were manufactured." Scroll down for Chrysler's official response to NHTSA, but we're pretty sure this isn't the last we've heard on this issue.
Show full PR text
Chrysler Group LLC Responds to NHTSA Recall Letter
June 4, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has issued a recall request letter proposing that Chrysler Group recall the Jeep Grand Cherokee in model years 1993 to 2004 and the Jeep Liberty in model years 2002 to 2007 (a total of approximately 2.7 million vehicles).

Chrysler Group has been working and sharing data with the Agency on this issue since September 2010. The company does not agree with NHTSA's conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective.

We believe NHTSA's initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this disagreement.

"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."

Chrysler Group's position on this matter is clear.

These vehicles met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity. Our analysis shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request, occur less than once for every million years of vehicle operation. This rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question.

Chrysler Group stands behind the quality and safety of its vehicles. It conducts voluntary recalls when they are warranted, and in most cases, before any notice or investigation request from NHTSA.

Customers who have questions or concerns can call the Chrysler Group's customer care line: 1-800-334-9200.

White Paper on NHTSA's Recall Request
Chrysler Group is committed to vehicle and public safety. The Company fully cooperated with NHTSA's review of the 1993-2004 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty vehicles, providing technical information and detailed analyses showing these models are safe, and meet or exceed all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

The Subject Vehicles Are Safe: Chrysler Group disagrees with NHTSA's recall request. The subject vehicles are not defective and their fuel systems do not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety in rear-impact collisions. These Jeep vehicles have proven to be safe in operation and the Company's analysis shows the incidents at the focus of this request occur less than one time for every million years of vehicle operation. Additionally, these vehicles met or exceeded all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards in place at the time they were built.

The incidents cited by NHTSA are extremely rare and represent only a small fraction of the total number of fatal crashes. The overwhelming majority of traffic fatalities occur in frontal, side, and rollover incidents. Considering all types of events, the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty are among the safest vehicles of their era.

Chrysler Disagrees with NHTSA'S Conclusions: There are a number of problems with NHTSA's analysis, leading, in the Company's view, to a mistaken conclusion to request a recall.

Vehicle Safety Performance – After an exhaustive engineering analysis, Chrysler Group has found no evidence that the fuel systems in the subject vehicles are defective in either their design or manufacture.
– All of these vehicles exceeded the requirements of NHTSA's FMVSS 301, the standard by which fuel system design is evaluated in the United States.
– A review of almost 30 years of field data revealed an extremely low number of rear impact crashes with fire or fuel leak that occurred in a fleet of more than five million subject vehicles that have travelled more than 500 billion miles over 50 million registered vehicle years.
– For the vast majority of the incidents cited by NHTSA, the crash force was far in excess of the rear crash fuel leak requirements in place at that time, and even more than the requirements in place today.
– All but one fatal crash involving the subject Grand Cherokees, and all but four Jeep Liberty incidents, involved high-energy crashes. One highly publicized crash cited by NHTSA involved a tractor-trailer traveling 65 mph and a stationary Grand Cherokee. Crash energy was estimated at more than 23 times the required performance threshold. Seventy-eight percent of Grand Cherokee incidents involved impacts with crash energy that exceeded today's rear impact fuel system integrity standard requirement which was doubled in the fall of 2008.

Unrepresentative comparisons – Chrysler Group believes NHTSA used an incomplete and unrepresentative group of comparison vehicles, to determine its "peer group." NHTSA's analysis excludes many models with aft-mounted fuel tanks which had a higher rate of the incidents than the targeted Jeep vehicles.
Data from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System show 24 models – none of which has been subjected to recall – are more likely to be involved in a fire-related, rear-impact fatality than the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty; 54 models are more likely than the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee. (See Figure 1.)

Incomplete data set – NHTSA's analysis does not consider all available data, omitting two of its own data sources in NASS (National Automotive Sampling System) when examining the performance of its peer group vehicles. For example, NHTSA found four incidents of non-fatal fires among its peer sets. However, Chrysler Group found 15 incidents utilizing NASS.

Data from some peer vehicle incidents were inappropriately excluded from NHTSA's investigation. Our detailed analysis of relevant incidents, after studying FARS and NASS, includes a more complete and accurate peer set, and data set, based on vehicle type (light-duty vehicles), fuel tank location (aft-axle) and model year.

Subject Vehicles Have No Design Defects: NHTSA's recall request contradicts its earlier findings. In 2003, NHTSA concluded it is not necessary to require that fuel tanks be relocated forward of the rear axle. It ruled:

"We are not proposing to require manufacturers to place each vehicle's fuel tank forward of the rear axle as suggested by Advocates. We believe such a requirement is unnecessary and would be design restrictive. We note that the fuel tank of the 1996 Ford Mustang, which passed the proposed rear impact test requirement, is located behind the rear axle. We believe that this test demonstrates that structural and component design is a more critical factor than fuel tank location in maintaining fuel system integrity."

The decision to locate the fuel tank behind the rear axle has long been recognized by NHTSA and the industry to be a reasonable design choice based on a number of factors, including vehicle use, function and packaging. The FARS and state data analysis submitted to NHTSA supports this.
NHTSA also refers to fuel tank height as a design defect. Chrysler Group has provided NHTSA with extensive data regarding fuel tank position. This data reveals fuel tank height and location in our vehicles, relative to bumper position, is comparable to most of the peer SUVs. Additionally, the analysis shows many cars with fuel tanks behind their rear axles perform worse in rear-impact collisions than the Jeep vehicles. These cars have fuel tanks that are closer to ground level.

NHTSA seems to be holding Chrysler Group to a new standard for fuel tank integrity that does not exist now and did not exist when the Jeep vehicles were manufactured.

The Safety of Drivers and Passengers is Chrysler's First Priority: The safety of drivers and passengers has long been the first priority of Chrysler Group and that commitment remains steadfast. If any one of our vehicles has a safety defect, we fix it.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 94 Comments
      NissanGTR
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey lets put the gas tank in the cabin and the people outside of the cabin. At least the gasoline will be protected. Idiots.
      Justin Shaw
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's on
      tr
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really want to buy a new Grand Cherokee, but after reading its crash test result in EuroNCAP, I'm very disappointed. I was hoping that Jeep would fix the 'seat defect' for the 2014 model, but they just ignored it. In comparison, Chevy Trax just had terrific test result in EuroNCAP.
      lazybeans
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is going to cost more than replacing floor mats.
      bubba_roe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Another case of dumpmestic automakers trying to avoid recalls.
        car-a-holic
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        Learn more about recalls. Really. That'll open your eyes a tad
      amdtin
      • 1 Year Ago
      I will not consider Jeep in future purchase decisions if they don't take responsibility for design errors
        mikeybyte1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amdtin
        What design error? Did you read the press release? They met every single design standard. Now NHTSA is saying "well if a semi-truck plows into you at 65mph your vehicle blows up." I am sure most vehicles would. I hope Chrysler ignores people like you and stands by their convictions.
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amdtin
        Design errors? It complied with all of the mandates at the time it was released and sold. If anything its an NHTSA error.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amdtin
        What vehicle will you buy that is designed to withstand a 55+mph rear-end collision? Don't say Crown Victoria.
        car-a-holic
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amdtin
        Go buy a honest German engineered car! Lol, they call all their problems " maintenance" rather than engineering mess ups
      carney373
      • 1 Year Ago
      Although the headline sounds damning, if you actually read the company's statement, it's pretty convincing.
        Tiberius1701
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carney373
        That would require that people would actually read the release (highly unlikely) and secondly have a smattering of common sense. (do I need to address that?)
        Spies1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @carney373
        So carney373 is one of the many dozens of yonomoxxx, tiberiousxxx, yomamaxxx, carguyxxx accounts. I especially like how you voted yourself +23
          Allch Chcar
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Spies1
          Nah, Carney is the guy always going on about Alcohol fuels.
      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      Basically the NHTSA is trying to make chrysler live up to todays standards with yesterdays vehicles. If your car/truck/suv gets hit while stopped from a semi going 65mph+ and it doesn't leak a flamable liquid of any sort its a miracle. I'm with Chrysler on this one, NHTSA is just trying to make a big deal where nothing would've stopped it. Look at the Fiero, everyone blames them for bursting into flames but really it was the dips*** owners who were letting them go low on oil (3 quart pan for the early 4cyl models) and send a rod through the block which splashed oil on the cat. Same thing for the Ford overheating fires, owners were ignoring that their vehicles were overheating (software issue allowed it to happen but lights still poped up and the gauge still read correctly) and when they sent a rod through the block oil splashed on the hot turbo & cats. The vehicles should've never gotten to the point of overheating so much as to throw a rod and most owners saw the overheating condition and shut them down properly. The major issue is we live in a country that feels the need to coddle us so severely that you have a crap ton of ignorant operators on the roads that lack common sense. A semi hits you and its going to be highly likely that something flamable will leak.
      Farmboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is rubbing off as a case of ex post facto regulation. Chrysler is in full right to defy the NHTSA, if it met the standards back when these vehicles were patented, produced, and certified as legal for US roads. High energy crashes, as Chrysler claims is a majority of cases, aren't your run of the mill fender bender or incident of car malfunction. And it sounds like NHTSA is hinting at some possible new fuel tank requirements, but who really knows.
        David MacGillis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Farmboy
        Precisely. Spot-on Farmboy. If the vehicle isn't safe under the NHTSA regulations at the time it was built and sold suddenly the maker of the vehicle is responsible to re-certifiy the vehicle and modify it to new standards after the fact? Insanity.
      JDM
      • 1 Year Ago
      I see autoblog isn\'t reporting all the facts. There have been 44 deaths, not 15. The Ford pinto was recalled for a similar issue with fewer deaths. Chrysler needs to do the right thing and recall these vehicles. We all know had this been a foreign manufacture the comments would be totally different. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/06/04/chrysler-jeep-liberty-grand-cherokee-recall/2388607/
        shelvis68comebak
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JDM
        How many Pintos were sold vs how many Jeeps? What percentage of Pintos went up in flames?
      EJD1984
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just read this statement in the USAToday article. "NHTSA did not identify a remedy for the tank positioning. It normally doesn't press for a recall unless the automaker has a remedy for the alleged problem." Then what the Flying FLIP is NHTSA expecting Jeep to do?!?!?!?!
      DrSandman
      • 1 Year Ago
      My wife has been rear-ended 3 times here in DC in her Jeep. The last time was by a Chevy Suburban traveling 55mph while she was at a full stop in traffic. The Suburban was totaled (the engine got pushed off the mounts) and we took the Liberty on vacation that weekend with a (large) scratch on the rear bumper and dented spare-tire holder. The hitch, no doubt, saved her bacon. But the Jeep protected her so well in every crash we've been in, I bought her another Jeep last year for Mother's day. I trust my wife and my kids to be protected by our Jeeps. Imagine a little tinbox Toyonda Camcord being hit by a semi @ 60mph... there wouldn't be anything left to catch fire but a two-dimensional pancake! Methinks that someone didn't donate to the proper political party and this is payback -- Chicago style.
        bubba_roe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DrSandman
        http://www.kcci.com/news/central-iowa/look-at-this-crash-photo/-/9357080/20160494/-/bx113fz/-/index.html
        bubba_roe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DrSandman
        lol 55 mph? riiiiiiight.....
        shelvis68comebak
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DrSandman
        Wait, so now after years of Cons saying Chrysler/Detroit is in bed with Obama, now the Gubmint is out to get them? Man, Libertarian and Conservative crackpots must be having some mixed feelings on this one. What crazy conspiracy theory can they spin to explain this? So much steam must be coming out of ears right now as the opportunity to attack Obama bailed out Chrysler means you have to side with Obama.
        DrSandman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DrSandman
        To all the doubters, yes, the impact began @ 55mph, according to the driver of the late 80's white Suburban. He locked up his brakes right before impact at the blind left corner of the VA Dulles Toll rd merging onto the DC Inner Loop Beltway. The wife left off the brakes and hit the gas, getting pushed off the road onto the shoulder. Her hitch speared the Surburban's radiator and scored a PERFECT direct hit on the harmonic balancer, pushing the engine off the mount. Her bumper was crushed, and tailgate dented and misaligned, and the spare tire absorbed quite a bit of damage. But she was fine. The car was drivable. And yes, we did take it on vacation that weekend. The Jeep dealer in Fairfax checked it out and said that even he didn't believe the police report, except that there was radiator fluid all through the guts of the rear suspension and bits of aluminum cooling fins intermingled with the hitch. Anecdote is not data. Doubt away; all I know is that when it came time to find a new chariot to carry the wife and children around, we really only considered a new Jeep due to it's proven ability to shelter the occupants.
          d
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DrSandman
          So... thats a completely different story, now isnt it? A rolling car + a car slowing down is VERY different than the original story, which sounded like stationary car getting plowed into by a car moving at 55 mph. At that speed, at that scenario, both your wife and the driver of the other car would be dead. Have you ever seen a 35 mph or even 40 mph crash? Yeah, cars are crushed in HALF at that point. Judging by the damage, Id estimate maybe 20 mph hit.
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