The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall to the Chrysler Group for 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokee (1993-2004) and first generation Jeep Liberty (2002-2007) vehicles. The staggering recall affects more than 1.2% of the 225 million vehicles on the road in the U.S.
The NHTSA claims that the rear-mounted plastic fuel tanks are susceptible to spilling gasoline during a read-end crash causing fires. Essentially the NHTSA believes the tanks are defective in both placement and design. For it’s part, Chrysler maintains that the incidents cited by NHSTA are “extremely rare and represent only a small fraction of the total number of fatal crashes.” The vehicles in question exceeded fuel system requirements as set forth by NHTSA, and according to Chrysler were wrongly juxtaposed with vehicle models with differing fuel tank mounts.
Analysis: It would appear that Chrysler has the stats on its side due to the sheer numbers of vehicles and miles traveled. By their calculations, these fire-related incidents due to a rear crash “occur less than one time for every million years of vehicle operation.” That may be the case, but is any loss of life necessary if a solution to the problem exists? As a government agency, the NHTSA has a responsibility to make recommendations to protect public safety however costly or unpopular. If the vehicles were designed correctly yet performed poorly, Chrysler should live up to its end of the bargain, and not guarantee the work only “at the time they were built.”
The NHTSA claims that the location of the fuel tank is an approved design but modifications need to be made to improve the set-up.
In a growing market of car competitors, Chrysler, now controlled by Fiat, is taking a huge risk. Perhaps a $300 million repair does not account for the losses Chrysler may realize from its sales, and lack of consumer confidence, or it could make the NHSTA take a harder look at their safety analysis. Here’s a one-in-a-million question: Do you know anyone whose Jeep has gone up in flames?
Also, Check out your car on the NHTSA website to see if there are any glaring issues.