The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration respectfully requested that Chrysler “voluntarily” recall 2.7 million Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee vehicles last week, but the company respectfully refused.
And so the battle begins!
The NHTSA says the vehicles mentioned in the request (built between 1993 and 2007) were designed poorly. The gas tank was placed behind the rear axle which the NHTSA says makes the vehicles prone to fires in the event of a collision. Chrysler, however, disagrees and said as much in a carefully worded newsletter which also stated, matter-of-factly, that they would not comply with the NHTSA requested recall.
No doubt the issue is far from over. When the NHTSA wants a recall they usually already have enough evidence to force a recall. If the automaker refuses to follow the request from the NHTSA the department will simply produce evidence (further damaging the brands reputation in the process) and eventually convince the automaker to capitulate to their “request.”
In this case, if the NHTSA says research shows that there is an engineering issue with the way the gasoline tanks are placed in these vehicles, then all they have to do is release this evidence. When the automaker feels the pressure from owners of these vehicles (who likely won’t appreciate knowing their car might explode or catch fire in the event of a collision) they will then be forced to issue the recall.
Essentially, the NHTSA offers automakers a lose-lose proposition that starts with a “respectful request.”