Chrysler Group, NHTSA at Odds Over Fuel-tank Systems
Now here’s something you don’t see every day: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently asked the Chrysler Group to recall some 2.7 million past-generation vehicles from its Jeep brand, and the company is declining to do so.
The products under discussion are the Jeep Grand Cherokee (model years 1993 to 2004) and Jeep Liberty (model years 2002 to 2007), and the issue centers around the integrity of the vehicles’ fuel tanks in the case of rear impacts. Needless to say, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has an issue with the vehicles’ safety performance, reporting that its “investigation revealed numerous fire-related deaths and injuries, fires that did not result in deaths and fuel leaks in rear impacts.” Chrysler, on the other hand, has a different take on that matter; in a recently released “White Paper on NHTSA’s Recall Request,” the automaker said:
“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. (Underlining in original.)
“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.”