One could say that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is in big trouble with NHTSA, because that statement is correct. The automaker has received the biggest fine in its history, totaling $105 million. The whole situation has added fuel to the fire of various people who are skeptical about FCA’s ability to produce safe vehicles, calling into question the company’s long-term viability.
It’s not the first time that Chrysler has been in a seriously tricky situation. The company has faced the pit of financial despair more than once, but was spared such a fate by the U.S. government. This time around, it’s the government putting the hurt on the automaker. The humongous fine has been for FCA delaying recall efforts, showing that NHTSA is getting serious about enforcing better practices in the industry.
That’s not the end of FCA’s problems with NHTSA. The company is also required to offer to buy back over 500,000 Ram pickup trucks that defective steering components. If left unrepaired, drivers can lose control and crash. The problem is that some attempts to fix the problem in the past haven’t netted a complete resolution. FCA has tried to argue that other vehicles that were made during the same time are just as vulnerable to catching fire, but NHTSA is hearing none of that. As a result, FCA agreed to the buyback solution. Still, if owners want the truck repaired, that will be done without any charge.
Even bigger is a buyback program that will affect Jeep owners. Over one million older models have rear-mounted gas tanks mounted behind the rear axles, making them huge fire risks. At least 75 fatalities have been confirmed as a result of the defective design. FCA is buying those vehicles back as well. With the Jeeps and Rams, customers can choose to use the vehicles for a trade-in, if they’re still interested in another truck made by FCA.
This news comes right after hackers uncovered a huge software flaw in certain newer FCA vehicles. The flaw allows a hacker to remotely take control of various systems, constituting a big security risk.