Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will pay a $70 million fine for failing to report claims of death and injury to U.S. auto safety regulators as required by law. It will also offer to buy back more than one million defective vehicles, including fire-prone Jeeps.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the company acknowledged that it violated federal requirements to repair vehicles with safety defects. In a consent order issued by NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler commits to take action in getting defective vehicles off the roads or repaired.
Owners of more than half a million vehicles with defective suspension parts that could cause the vehicle to lose control will have the opportunity to sell their vehicle back to Fiat Chrysler.
Owners of more than a million Jeeps that are prone to deadly fires either will have the chance to trade their vehicle in for above its market value, or will receive a financial incentive to get their vehicle remedied.
The consent order requires FCA to notify vehicle owners eligible for buybacks and other financial incentives that these new options are available.
FCA also agreed to a total potential penalty of $105 million, the largest ever imposed by the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It will pay a $70 million cash penalty and spend $20 million to meet requirements of the consent order with NHTSA. Another $15 million could come due if future violations are found.
The enforcement action comes after a July 2 public hearing at which NHTSA officials outlined problems with Fiat Chrysler’s execution of 23 vehicle safety recalls covering more than 11 million defective vehicles. Fiat Chrysler has since admitted to violating the Safety Act in three areas: effective and timely recall remedies, notification to vehicle owners and dealers, and notifications to NHTSA.
“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,” said Foxx.
The automaker also agrees to unprecedented oversight for the next three years, which includes hiring an independent monitor approved by NHTSA to assess, track, and report the company’s recall performance.
“Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers, and the driving public, at risk,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “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.”