Federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have just issued Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Fiat) a $70 million fine for failing to provide years of safety data to them. This multi-million dollar penalty is actually an amendment to a Consent Order that NHTSA issued to Fiat this past June for its failures in carrying out “two dozen safety recalls.”Totaling the fines associated with the initial Consent Order and the amendment enacted earlier this month, Fiat now owes $175 million in civil penalties, with:
$140 million due “in cash” immediately
$35 million being “deferred penalties that will come due if [Fiat] fails to meet its obligations under the consent order.”
As regulators noted in their announcement of this action against Fiat, the automaker had substantially underreported crash and injury data to federal regulators, failing to provide them Early Warning Report data. This data, which includes customer complaints, warranty claims and reports of injuries and deaths, is used by regulators to evaluate possible safety issues and, in doing so, determine when “potential defects… may require a safety recall.”
As part of the July Consent Order, Fiat has already acknowledged that these reporting failures, which violate the TREAD Act of 2000, date as far back as 2003. Fiat has also, as part of the Consent Order, agreed to:
Retain an independent, third-party auditor to investigate the scope of the underreporting
Report the auditor’s findings to NHTSA
Provide regulators with “missing early earning data”
Submit to ongoing monitoring to ensure continued compliance.
Explaining regulators’ actions against Fiat, NTHSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has stated:
NHTSA’s enforcement actions in recent months have been designed not only to penalize previous actions, but to increase safety going forward… FCA has expressed a desire to use this situation as a stepping stone to a stronger, more proactive safety posture, and NHTSA is ready to work with FCA and the industry as a whole to improve safety.
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