Feds fine Fiat Chrysler $105M for recall failures

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The Obama administration is fining Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a record $105 million for failing to properly repair recalled cars or replace them for owners. 

The improperly handled recalls that resulted in the large fine involved 23 different car parts and affected 11 millions autos, the Department of Transportation said Monday. 

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx  said the fine is necessary to protect drivers and warn other automakers that recalls should be taken seriously.  

{mosads}“Today’s action holds Fiat Chrysler accountable for its past failures, pushes them to get unsafe vehicles repaired or off the roads and takes concrete steps to keep Americans safer going forward,” Foxx said in a statement. “This civil penalty puts manufacturers on notice that the Department will act when they do not take their obligations to repair safety defects seriously.”

The fines come as lawmakers are fighting over the federal government’s ability to fine and even jail automakers in some cases when they fail to properly disclose issues involving car recalls. 

Democrats are trying to add provisions to a must-pass highway bill that would make failing to inform federal regulators about faulty auto parts a crime that is punishable by up to five years in prison. 

The proposal would also eliminate a $35-million-per-violation cap on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) ability to fine automakers who fail to comply with recall regulations and require the installation of a warning system that will warn drivers when their cars have been recalled by manufacturers. 

Transportation Department officials said Monday that Fiat Chrysler is paying $70 million in fines, which is a combination of three violations, plus another $20 million on performance improvements. The company would also have to pay another $15 million if an independent monitor finds further violations of federal recall regulations. 

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind attributed the fines to “Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance” that he said “put millions of its customers, and the driving public, at risk. 

“This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture,” he said. 

Fiat Chrysler said it accepts the terms of the agreement with the highway safety agency “with renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us. 

“We are intent on rebuilding our relationship with NHTSA and we embrace the role of public safety advocate,” the company said in a statement. “Accordingly, FCA US has agreed to address certain industry objectives, such as identifying best practices for recall execution and researching obstacles that discourage consumers from responding to recall notices.” 

Tags Anthony Foxx Auto recalls Fiat Chrysler Mark Rosekind National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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