Chrysler Backs Down from Defensive Stance Against NHTSA Recall Request
Company Weighs Potential Damage to Public Image In Decision
After a bold and public confrontation with one of the most powerful governmental regulatory agencies over a refusal to recall more than 2 million vehicles , Chrysler has finally capitulated to the agency's pressure. Despite the cost of such an extensive recall, Chrysler likely weighed the potential damage to the company and Jeep brand's image if it were to be perceived as not caring about owners' safety, even as long as 20 years after initial purchase.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requested that Jeep recall as many as 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUV models built between 1993 and 2007. At issue was an allegedly defective and unsafe fuel tank design whereby the tank was mounted behind the rear axle, making it vulnerable to leakage and rupture in a severe rear-end collision.
Chrysler defended the design, saying it was in full compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards in place at the time, also citing injury and fatality statistics showing that the vehicles in question were no more dangerous than other models in the class, and in some cases statistically less likely than peer vehicles to be involved in fatal crashes.
Today, in an official statement, Chrysler has agreed to perform a voluntary recall campaign consisting of a visual inspection of vehicles, and an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle if needed. Chrysler concluded the release with the statement that "Chrysler Group regards safety as a paramount concern and does not compromise on the safety of our customers and their families.