The government’s federal safety regulator should have a decision within two weeks regarding whether it should reopen an investigation into older Jeep models that have been involved in fiery crashes.
Assessing things at a Transportation Department recall summit, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Mark Rosekind said that the “situation has gotten worse” due to newly reported fatalities in Jeep fires, following the recall of a host of models about two years prior. He also lamented the glacial pace in which dealerships are repairing affected Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models, calling the situation “horrible.”
Chrysler, which has since become part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles since the recalls, was asked to fix the defective Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty models by installing trailer hitches on the back of the SUVs. This would provide extra protection in the event of a low-speed collision. According to Chrysler, 45 percent of all Grand Cherokees and 27 percent of all Libertys, all from the 1993 to 2007 model year, have been fixed. Still, Rosekind and the NHTSA are far from happy with this, saying that the pace of repair “has not met expectations.”
Jeep parent Chrysler had originally struck up a bargain with the NHTSA in June 2013, successfully appealing for a more limited recall than the 2.7 million vehicles regulators originally wanted Chrysler to recall. This came on the heels after it was discovered that the SUVs are susceptible to igniting in rear-end collisions, and were responsible for 51 deaths in these accidents. Unfortunately, several more people have been killed in rear-end Jeep crashes, the most recent one being a pregnant 23-year-old in November 2014.