AUBURN HILLS, Michigan – Fiat-Chrysler faces scrutiny from federal safety regulators for admitting that it failed to properly report death and injury claims linked to its vehicles.
The automaker could be subject to penalties, as National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind called the issue a “significant failure.”
Automakers must report vehicles crashes, deaths, injuries, warranty claims and other information to the federal government as part of NHTSA’s early-warning system.
Fiat-Chrysler posted a statement on its website on Tuesday saying it “promptly notified NHTSA of these issues and committed to a thorough investigation, to be followed by complete remediation.”
The company said it is in regular communication with NHTSA about its progress in the investigation and that it takes “this issue extremely seriously.”
A Fiat-Chrysler spokesman told Edmunds he could not provide details about which vehicles are involved in the investigation or answer any other questions at this point.
The discovery of the under-reporting coincides with the automaker’s $105-million settlement with NHTSA over its handling of nearly two dozen recalls covering 11 million vehicles.
“Preliminary information suggests that this under-reporting is the result of a number of problems with FCA’s systems for gathering and reporting EWR (Early Warning Report) data,” Rosekind said. “This represents a significant failure to meet a manufacturer’s safety responsibilities.”
He added: “NHTSA will take appropriate action after gathering additional information on the scope and causes of this failure.”
Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a joint statement blasting the latest report from Fiat-Chrysler.
“Yet again, we are told an automaker failed to submit all early-warning documents related to potentially fatal defects, and once again NHTSA continues to drag its feet on issuing new requirements that would make this critical reporting immediate and mandatory,” they said. “Fiat-Chrysler must be held accountable for any wrongdoing, and NHTSA must issue new rules to detect fatal defects.
“And we need to make early warning information available to the public on a user-friendly website so we reduce the chance that yet another safety defect goes undetected.”
Edmunds says: This is just the latest in a series of auto scandals rattling American consumers.