Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) yesterday detailed the buy-back program it agreed to as part of a settlement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The buy-back program, which could cost the automaker as much as $4 billion, was one phase of a multi-part program that settles 23 recalls. The safety agency also fined FCA $105 million. The fine, buy-back and other programs were all part of a settlement reached in July for the automaker’s slow response to 23 recalls. For example, the automaker launched a recall of 1.56 million Jeeps for potentially hazardous gas tank placement in 2013. By the end of June, only 400,000 vehicles had been repaired under the recall, roughly one-quarter of the vehicles covered.
Suffice to say, the newly energized safety agency, under Administrator Mark Rosekind, was more than a little upset with the snail’s pace at which FCA was repairing vehicles. The safety agency took the automaker to task at a Washington hearing in early July. Following the hearing, the agency and automaker worked together closely to set up and fine tune the settlement.
To meet the other areas of the agreement, FCA is using a combination of the buy-back, where applicable; dealer service, and prepaid debit cards. FCA considers this a critical program as the settlement was apparently approved by the highest levels of the corporation. Scott Kunselman, FCA senior vice president of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance, emphasized that it is “imperative that all vehicles implicated by recalls are inspected and serviced, as required.” Further, he noted that the automaker is encouraging customers to “contact their dealers” and have their vehicles serviced.
As outlined, the various FCA plan allows that:
- Beginning today, owners of 200,000 2008-2012 RAM pickups, whose vehicles have been recalled for defective front suspensions, can sell their vehicles back to FCA for market value plus 10 percent, or, owners can have their vehicles repaired and will receive a $100 prepaid Visa card, or, they can accept a $2,000 trade-in incentive off the purchase price of a new RAM pickup or $1,000 off a new Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat or Jeep vehicle. The offers expire Jan. 4, 2016. If you want to opt for the buy-back, owners can log onto www.fcarecall.com and enter their vehicle VIN to see the buy-back value. Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by mail.
- Owners of 1993 to 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 to 2007 Libertys, recalled in 2013 for defective fuel tanks that have been linked to fire fatalities, will be offered $100 prepaid Visa cards to repair their vehicles. FCA dealers will install a trailer hitch that will protect the fuel tank.
- Owners of Jeep Grand Cherokees, affected by this program, will be given the added option of trading out of their vehicle and into a new vehicle or, in another option, they will be given a $1,000 prepaid Visa card to be used for parts and service at the FCA dealership that accepts the trade-in (these options are based on the trade). Liberty owners are not eligible for the trade-in option, while owners who did not have trailer hitches as of July 24 are eligible for the programs, while owners whose vehicles have had the hitches installed since then can receive the $100 Visa.