WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to proceed with a July 2 public hearing to probe Fiat Chrysler’s handling of 20 recalls despite several changes and new initiatives by the company designed to improve its recall performance.
In its response to the agency’s order for information about the 20 recalls, FCA US detailed several new initiatives and processes underway at the company designed to improve its communication and execution of recall campaigns. It also pledged to listen to input from NHTSA about how its recall-improvement actions should be implemented.
To improve recalls, FCA said its plans include:
- Holding biweekly meetings with executives from safety and regulatory compliance, Mopar, customer care, purchasing and other departments.
- Assigning a second vice president to manage and coordinate recall efforts by dealers.
- Reviewing recall campaign plans by senior management as needed with monthly updates.
- Installing new recall management software program to monitor progress and anticipate delays.
- Beefing up its product investigation staff to review and monitor recalls.
The changes, plus others, make the public hearing into the recalls unnecessary, FCA said in its June 1 letter, which was released publicly today. Yet NHTSA plans to go ahead with the public hearing anyway, according to an agency spokesman.
“We have identified 20 recalls where we have concerns about Fiat Chrysler’s performance of its obligations under the Safety Act,” NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said in a statement. “Those concerns continue, and the hearing is a part of the process for determining whether the company has met its obligations.”
NHTSA has concerns about the timeliness and appropriateness of FCA’s recall notifications, along with instances of repairs that may not fix a given defect and with low recall completion rates.
In its letter to NHTSA, Chrysler said 77 percent of its recalled vehicles are repaired within 18 months of a recall’s start on average. The calculation is based on the number of vehicles still in service, as opposed to the total number produced that may contain a defect, which is the usual denominator.
Also in its letter, Chrysler said it may have failed to notify customers of a recall within 60 days as required by law in five of the 20 recalls under review.
The recall initiatives described in Chrysler’s letter to NHTSA “reflect a deep commitment to thorough investigation and the timely remedy of safety defects,” Chrysler said in a statement. “While this commitment has helped FCA US achieve positive results, we will not be satisfied until we firmly re-establish the trust our customers place in us.”