A day after announcing a massive auto recall of 1.5 million Jeep vehicles, Chrysler is again taking a defiant tone saying that the trailer hitches it has agreed to install will not protect motorists in high speed crashes and that the vehicles, in fact, are not defective.
The automaker agreed to issue this recall after first refusing to do so, saying that the government’s determination was inaccurate and that their vehicles are not defectively designed. However, an insider told news media that Chrysler decided to issue the car recall purely for public relations purposes – to preserve its brand image.
Chrysler submitted two letters this week to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), saying it would continue to deny NHTSA’s request to recall more Jeep vehicles and that the trailer hitches will not protect against high speed rear-end crashes. NHTSA has requested recalls of all Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles through the 2004 model year. But Chrysler officials have said that the scope of the recall will be limited to 1993 to 1998 models, an action that is potentially a major cost saver for the automaker.
During its investigation, NHTSA identified at least 50 fire deaths caused by fiery Jeep crashes. Consumer safety groups that have been pushing for this safety recall for years say they have identified more than 300 fatalities. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety has called on NHTSA to extend the recall to 1993 to 2001 Cherokee vehicles as well. But Chrysler has been adamant that its vehicles are no more dangerous than other comparable vehicles.
Need for a More Comprehensive Recall
It seems to me that Chrysler issued a half-hearted recall after significant pressure from the government. Now it is dragging its feet and trying to stall a major recall. Chrysler officials are refusing to issue a complete recall of these dangerous and defective vehicles. How many more have to die before they take these vehicles off the street? The defect in these vehicles is fairly straightforward. Chrysler designed these vehicles in such a way that the fuel tanks are placed next to the rear bumper. So, in the event of a rear-end collision, the vehicle catches fire easily. Chrysler is putting profits before the safety of their consumers. They need to do the right thing here and issue a comprehensive recall of all these dangerous Jeep vehicles.