Chrysler's Betts: Recall volume is like boy who cried wolf

Betts: "You just try to stay out of the news."
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A year ago, Chrysler Group raised eyebrows when it spurned a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall hundreds of thousands of older-model Jeep Grand Cherokees and Libertys to fix the allegedly fire-prone SUVs.

But what if that letter from NHTSA last June had arrived a year later, amid the current rash of automaker recalls?

"I think we would have rolled over and played dead in a second," says Chrysler quality chief Doug Betts.

"In the environment that we have right now -- it's a very politicized issue.

"And when you get into politicization of an issue, then all sense goes out the window and you just try to stay out of the news."

Betts still thinks Chrysler did the right thing last year when it ultimately agreed to add trailer hitch assemblies to 1993-98 Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Libertys that didn't already have them, with the aim of improving safety in low-energy impacts.

The parts and needed special tooling for those vehicles went into production last month and are expected to begin arriving in dealerships later this summer.

Betts says the flurry of recalls by automakers could have unintended consequences. "There are some that, you know, you ought to go get your car fixed," he said, speaking of consumers.

"[But] how do you differentiate if we become hypersensitive? It's the boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome; I think that's the biggest risk of this current situation."

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