Chrysler is rejecting a request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to a Jeep Cherokee Recall of about 2.7 million Jeep Libertys and Jeep Grand Cherokees after the safety agency concluded that the vehicles posed a fire risk because of the potential for the fuel tank to leak in rear-end collisions.
In a statement, Chrysler said that it “does not agree with the NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective.” Though refusing to follow requests made by the NHTSA to the Jeep Cherokee Recall is exceedingly rare, Chrysler contents that the agencies findings were based on an incomplete analysis of data, CBS News reports.
NHTSA began investigating the vehicles in 2010 at the urging of advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, which raised concerns over the fact that the fuel tanks were located below the rear bumper and axle. This positioning make the vehicles susceptible to rupturing and spilling fuel in a rear-end collision. Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center, said the vehicles have a ‘terrible design’ and send many letters to the auto maker requesting a recall, CBS News reports.
According to the Washington Post, the NHTSA investigation showed that the fuel tanks of the Jeep’s can fail in a rear-end collision, and pose a fire hazard if there would be an ignition source. The SUV’s affected by the safety agency request and the Jeep Cherokee Recall include the 1993 to 2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002 through 2007 Liberties.
The NHTSA said in the request letter Grand Cherokee statistics show that 44 deaths were caused in 32 rear-end impact accidents, and seven deaths were caused in five rear-end impacts involving the Libertys. The agency then said that the fatal crash rates of the Grand Cherokees and Liberties included in the recall request were about double those of similar vehicles, the Post reported.
If Chrysler does not implement the recall by June 18, the company will have to explain why to the safety agency. At that time the NHTSA will issue its final decision regarding whether the design of the vehicles is defective or not.
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