By Larry P. Vellequette, Crain News Service
DETROIT (July 21, 2015) — The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said July 20 that the agency is negotiating with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to settle a dispute over the auto maker's handling of recalls, but nothing has been signed.
Speaking to reporters in Detroit ahead of a conference about autonomous vehicles, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said a settlement — known as a consent order — with FCA “would be a strong outcome if we could do that.”
FCA representatives were called to a special hearing on July 2 at NHTSA to answer questions about 23 recalls that the agency alleges were improperly executed. After the hearing, Mr. Rosekind said that FCA would face penalties for its actions.
“There's a long list of things that [FCA did that] put people at risk,” Mr. Rosekind told reporters July 20.
Mr. Rosekind said he is encouraged by the public comments that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and other executives have made about the auto maker working more closely with NHTSA. But “we're going to be watching for the actions that follow,” he added.
NHTSA attorneys are considering a number of penalties for FCA, from monitoring and reporting programs up to, and including, vehicle buybacks, Mr. Rosekind said.