Chrysler agreed Tuesday to recall 2.7 million older model Jeeps, deciding to abruptly reverse its previous defiant position and avoid a potential public relations fiasco. At the center of the controversy are fuel tanks that have the potential to catch fire when the Jeeps are involved in rear-end collisions. If Chrysler continued to resist the recall it faced a showdown with federal government safety regulators that could have led to public hearings where witnesses would come forward and testify about deadly collisions involving the Jeeps at issue. This controversy could have ultimately led to courtroom proceedings and destroyed Chrysler’s image and financial stature.
The government requested a recall earlier this month of Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007 and Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured between 1993 through 2004. Chrysler refused the request, but reversed course after numerous calls from concerned consumers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the Jeep’s gas tank can burst if hit from the rear, which in turn can cause the vehicle to burst into flames. NHTSA, which is the agency responsible for monitoring vehicle safety, conducted a three-year investigation of the vehicles. The investigation revealed that fifty-one people were killed in crashes involving Jeeps with gas tanks situated near the rear axle that caught fire.
Just two weeks ago, Chrysler claimed that the vehicles were not defective, despite the NHTSA allegations and investigation results. Tuesday, the company again reiterated that the vehicles are safe. Chrysler stated that dealers will fix the problem by inspecting effected Jeeps and installing hitch trailers to protect the gas tanks. Any Jeeps lacking a hitch will get one, vehicles with a broken hitch will be able to have it replaced, and vehicles with a hitch from a company other than Chrysler will also receive new hitches. Chrysler did not release the cost of the trailer hitches.
Chrysler agrees to recall of Jeeps at risk of fire, www.palmbeachpost.com June 18, 2013
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