Photo source: Ferrari

Ferrari has found that putting off until tomorrow what you should do today is an expensive policy.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is fining the automaker $3.5 million for failing to submit early warning reports (EWR reports) identifying potential or actual safety issues. In addition, the company has been ordered to comply with NHTSA oversight requirements as set forth in a consent order.

Violations admitted

Federal law requires large manufacturers and affiliates of large manufacturers to submit comprehensive EWR reports on a quarterly basis, in order to provide notice to the Transportation Department of potential safety concerns.

Ferrari, an affiliate of Chrysler, admitted that it violated the law when it failed to submit required reports to NHTSA over a 3-year period, and failed to report 3 fatal incidents. Until Fiat (which includes Ferrari since 2011) acquired Chrysler, Ferrari qualified as a small volume manufacturer and was not required to file quarterly EWR reports. However, while Ferrari was not required to file quarterly reports, it must report fatal incidents nonetheless.

"There is no excuse for failing to follow laws created to keep drivers safe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “All automakers will be held accountable if they fail to do their part in our mission to keep Americans safe on the road."

Remedial actions ordered

In addition to the civil penalty, the consent order requires the Ferrari to improve its processes for EWR reporting, to train personnel on the EWR requirements, to communicate these improvements to NHTSA, and to retroactively submit all EWR reports. The consent order is immediately enforceable in federal court if any terms are violated.

"The information included in early warning reports is an essential tool in tracking down dangerous defects in vehicles," added NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. "Early warning reports are like NHTSA's radar, helping us to find unsafe vehicles and make sure they are fixed. Companies that violate the law and fail to comply will be subject to comparable swift NHTSA enforcement action."

EWR reports are required under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000. The law requires quarterly reporting of: production information; incidents involving death or injury; aggregate data on property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and field reports; and, copies of field reports involving specified vehicle components, a fire, or a rollover.

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