While it may seem like there are fewer recalls this year compared to 2014, it is arguable that the final number will eclipse last year’s record. Part of this may be attributable to new technology that is being introduced, and not necessarily perfected for many uses. Also, the number of fines levied against automakers for failing to issue recalls could be a strong deterrent against complacency in correcting defects.
For those unfamiliar with the new trend of assessing fines against automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued some of its heaviest fines over the last year. For example, General Motors was forced to pay a $35 million fine for its failure to address the ignition switch problem that led to millions of vehicles being recalled. Similarly, Honda was assessed a $70 million fine for its failure to inform consumers about the dangers of airbags manufactured by Takata.
The latest fine assessed to Fiat Chrysler is the largest by far; $105 million. The announcement comes on the heels of a rare public hearing where the NHTSA detailed a litany of the company’s shortfalls in alerting consumers of recalls, failing to correct mechanical hazards in a timely manner and even failing to find solutions for existing problems; often leaving consumers left with no answers and no options.
While it is unclear from the ABC News.com report whether lawsuits had been previously filed on behalf of those injured because of uncorrected mechanical problems in Jeeps, the latest announcement could be problematic for the company going forward.