Chrysler says that the vehicles in question are safe, and that the automaker has been working with NHTSA to resolve this issue since 2010. “We believe NHTSA’s initial conclusions are based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data, and we are committed to continue working with the Agency to resolve this disagreement,” Chrysler writes in a press release.
The Detroit Free Press reports that while most car companies honor NHTSA’s recall requests, “a federal judge could ultimately force Chrysler to comply or side with the automaker.”
"Chrysler must feel like it has a compelling reason to take such a bold stand,” says Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds. “Since Toyota was publicly humiliated for dragging its feet on recalls just a few years ago, automakers have been quick to recall vehicles at NHTSA's request.” Edmunds reports that NHTSA noted 15 fatalities and 41 injuries supposedly caused by rear-end collisions in Jeep vehicles after extending its investigation last June.
NHTSA’s investigation was spurred by the Center for Auto Safety, which claims that the 1993-04 Grand Cherokee is four times more likely to catch fire in a crash than competing SUVs.
Chrysler says that the Grand Cherokee and Liberty “met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” and that the risk of a fire in a rear-end collision is less than once for every million years of operation. The automaker claims that the risk is similar to the chance of crash-related fires in competing SUVs built around the same time.
Owners with questions or concerns can call Chrysler customer care at (800) 334-9200.