U.S. regulator to Chrysler's Marchionne: get act in gear on Jeep recall

Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:09pm EST
 
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By Eric Beech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. government safety regulators on Thursday told Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne that the company "have to get their act in gear" to speed up repairs of recalled Jeep SUVs that face a heightened fire risk.

David Friedman, deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was asked by reporters if he was satisfied with Chrysler's performance in adding trailer hitches to affected Jeep SUVs to protect them in lower speed rear-end crashes.

"No. In fact, this morning I sent a letter to the chairman and CEO of Chrysler telling them they have to get their act in gear. They have to make sure they're getting those parts in the hands of consumers," Friedman said.

Chrysler is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Marchionne is chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group as well as CEO of Fiat Chrysler.

Earlier this month, Chrysler said it was intensifying its effort to reach owners of the 1.56 million older model recalled Jeep SUVs because so few were bringing them in to dealerships to have the trailer hitch assemblies installed.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne on Thursday said the company has again stepped up its efforts to reach owners. Only about 137,000 of the 1.56 million owners have shown up at dealers to have trailer hitch assemblies installed, Mayne said.

As of Thursday, the Chrysler spokesman said, the company has 488,000 trailer hitch assemblies in stock.

Still, on Thursday, Friedman of NHTSA said, "They’ve told us they have nearly 400,000 parts and yet we’re getting complaints from consumers saying the dealers are telling them there aren’t any parts. Something is wrong there.”   Continued...

 
The Chrysler logo is seen outside the Chrysler auto dealer in Broomfield, Colorado October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking