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Fiat Chrysler’s Failures to Report Safety Data to NHTSA Lead to $70M Civil Penalty

A $105 million civil penalty issued to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Fiat) this past July has just been increased by $70 million, according to officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA). That is because, as officials have explained, Fiat’s failures to properly carry out 24 vehicle safety recalls have been compounded by new findings that, since 2003, the auto manufacturer has also failed to report vehicle safety, crash and injury data to federal regulators.

Fiat Chrysler’s Failures to Report Safety Data to NHTSA Lead to $70M Civil Penalty

And now Fiat will have to pay at least $140 million in fines in cash. The remaining $35 million will be due if Fiat fails to comply with any of the terms of its July Consent Order, as well as the recent amendment to that Order (which was imposed earlier this month).

Background on Fiat’s Violations

Federal investigations into Fiat’s violations of the TREAD Act of 2000 have revealed that the automaker mishandled about two dozen safety recalls this year alone while significantly underreporting crash data (and other safety data) to federal regulators for at least the past decade.

Some of the ways that Fiat is alleged to have botched these recalls include by:

  • Failing to notify federal transportation officials about vehicle safety issues in a timely manner (The law requires automakers notify officials of safety issues within five days of discovering them.);
  • Failing to accurately report safety issues to federal regulators when notifications were finally made; and
  • Inadequately administering recall remedies.

These failures have impacted the owners of more than 11 million vehicles in the U.S., officials have pointed out.

The Next Steps for Fiat…

At this point, Fiat has to pay the civil penalties and abide by all of the terms of the federal Consent Order (and its amendment), only some of which require Fiat to:

  • Swiftly repair the vehicles identified to have safety defects
  • Purchase some defective vehicles back from owners
  • Hire an independent, third-party consultant to investigate the scope of the violations and monitor the company moving forward to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

Remarking on the penalties imposed on Fiat, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated:

Accurate, early-warning reporting is a legal requirement, and it’s also part of a manufacturer’s obligation to protect the safety of the traveling public…We need [Fiat] and other automakers to move toward a stronger, more proactive safety culture, and when they fall short, we will continue to exercise our enforcement authority to set them on the right path.

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