NHTSA preparing to wallop FCA, automaker 'failed to do its job'

As embattled the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be, but that certainly doesn't mean it isn't willing or able to put the smack down on automakers that violate its recall procedures. Following a public hearing on Thursday, the government safety arm is preparing what will likely be some very serious punishments for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

FCA stands accused of mishandling 23 individual recalls covering some 11 million vehicles since 2013, with NHTSA claiming the Italian-American automaker kept it "in the dark," failing to notify the government of safety defects. Uncle Sam also alleges that FCA failed to notify consumers of important safety notices and didn't provide a steady supply of replacement parts. For these charges, the automaker could be fined up to $35 million per recall, which could mean a maximum of $805 million in fines. FCA could also be forced to buy back the unrepaired vehicles.

"We have serious concerns with Fiat Chrysler notifications to owners and to NHTSA about its recalls. In every one of the 23 recalls, we have identified ways in which Fiat Chrysler failed to do its job," Jennifer Timian, the head of the Office of Defects Investigation, said during the FCA hearing, The Detroit News reports. The company also "repeatedly failed to provide NHTSA with other critical information about its recalls, including changes to the vehicles impacted by the recalls and its plans for remedying those vehicles."

Fiat Chrysler, for its part, didn't really fight back during its hearing, although Scott Kunselman (shown above during the hearing), the senior vice president of vehicle safety and regulatory affairs at FCA, did tell The News that, "We absolutely had no mis-intent."

"The plan is to move forward," Kunselman said, adding that the company has "fallen short," and that "some of the things we've done were sloppy." NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind told The News that the regulator would issue its sanctions by the end of July, adding that he saw no way that FCA could avoid punishment.

Chrysler Information


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