Jeep Grand Cherokee

You may remember that Jeep's unusual fix for this recall involves fitting a trailer hitch.

The recall of about 1.5 million models of the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee over fuel tanks may finish far sooner than originally estimated. In a new filing from Jeep's parent, Chrysler Group, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company says that it can complete the repairs for the affected vehicles by March 2015, much sooner than the previous estimate of sometime in 2018. Jeep predicts the total cost of the campaign will be around $151 million.

You may remember that Jeep's unusual fix for this recall, which centers on the potential vulnerability of these vehicles' fuel tanks, involves fitting a trailer hitch. According to Chrysler's letter to the government safety watchdog, the quicker pace is because Chrysler Group was able to take advantage of additional robots from its hitch supplier. The extra production capacity will allow the timeline to speed up considerably. In addition, the automaker believes that there are fewer Jeeps actually needing fixes than the number recalled because some of them aren't on the road anymore. Repairs are still scheduled to begin in August.

NHTSA previously gave Jeep until July 16 to answer the regulator's questions. Washington authorities were especially curious as to why it took the automaker until last December to find a parts supplier and until January 2014 to order the hitches. The explanations to these questions were redacted from the new document, though. At the time, NHTSA threatened that it could "take additional appropriate action as warranted."

The whole hullabaloo between Jeep and NHTSA goes back to June 2013 when the automaker reluctantly decided not to honor a recall request from the regulator. Jeep has maintained that the affected vehicles met all applicable safety regulations at the time. The two sides eventually compromised on a campaign to cover the roughly 1.5 million SUVs. Scroll down to read brief statement from Chrysler Group about the recall, and the company's answers to NHTSA can be downloaded as a redacted document in PDF format, here.
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NHTSA Special Order -- EA12-005;13V-252

July 17, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group anticipates having sufficient parts volume to complete the campaigns by March 15, 2015.

The Company has requested that NHTSA treat as confidential, certain responses that detail business practices such as supplier selection. The attached document has been redacted accordingly.