Tag Archive | "Chrysler"

Chrysler Renames Itself as FCA US


U.S. automaker Chrysler Group LLC said it had changed its name to FCA US LLC effective immediately to follow the naming convention of its parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), reported Reuters.

Italian automaker Fiat SpA took management control of Chrysler in 2009 after the American company emerged from government-sponsored bankruptcy.

Earlier this year Fiat completed its purchase of all outstanding Chrysler shares, and listed the company on the New York Stock Exchange in October.

Chrysler said the change of name does not affect the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, its holdings, management team, board or brands.

FCA US employs more than 77,000 employees globally, and operates 36 manufacturing facilities, including 23 in the United States, six in Canada and seven in Mexico.

The company has projected a 60 percent growth in sales to 7 million vehicles and a fivefold increase in net profit to as much as $6.9 billion by 2018.

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Chrysler Expands Takata Passenger-Side Air Bag Recall in U.S.


Chrysler Group is expanding its U.S. recall of older-model vehicles with Takata Corp passenger-side air bags, adding a second inflator design to the recall and more affected regions, reported Reuters.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said in a statement late Thursday that it was recalling 208,783 vehicles by adding the second inflator family as well as including five states and three territories. The company said no accidents or injuries in any of its vehicles have been linked to any Takata passenger-side inflators.

Chrysler was one of 10 automakers who began a regional recall in June of older-model vehicles equipped with both driver- and passenger-side Takata air bags in areas with high humidity.

Including a recent passenger-side air bag recall involving a single pickup truck model and a different Takata inflator design, the total number of affected vehicles is estimated at 617,573, Chrysler said.

“Chrysler Group has not identified an inflator defect in any of its vehicles,” the company said. “However, the company is committed – out of an abundance of caution – to replacing these components.”

U.S. safety regulators have been pushing Chrysler to expand its recall of vehicles with Takata passenger-side air bags, adding to the June regional recall.

On Dec. 3, Chrysler recalled 2003 Ram pickup trucks with passenger-side bags using inflators from a product family code-named “SPI.” Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called the move “insufficient” because it failed to include all inflators covered by Takata’s defect information report.

The recall on Thursday covers inflators from the “PSPI” family of Takata inflators, Chrysler said.

NHTSA officials could not be reached for a comment on Friday.

The latest expansion adds Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan to a list that initially included Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to no injuries or accidents involving PSPI inflators, the company has not identified a defect in the parts, including its lab tests of nearly 600 such inflators.

The Thursday recall affects 2003 to 2005 models of Dodge and Chrysler cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. Affected customers will be notified, beginning Feb. 8.

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U.S. Regulator to Chrysler’s Marchionne: Get Act In Gear on Jeep Recall


U.S. government safety regulators on Thursday told Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne that the company “have to get their act in gear” to speed up repairs of recalled Jeep SUVs that face a heightened fire risk, reported Reuters.

David Friedman, deputy director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was asked by reporters if he was satisfied with Chrysler’s performance in adding trailer hitches to affected Jeep SUVs to protect them in lower speed rear-end crashes.

“No. In fact, this morning I sent a letter to the chairman and CEO of Chrysler telling them they have to get their act in gear. They have to make sure they’re getting those parts in the hands of consumers,” Friedman said.

Chrysler is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Marchionne is chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group as well as CEO of Fiat Chrysler.

Earlier this month, Chrysler said it was intensifying its effort to reach owners of the 1.56 million older model recalled Jeep SUVs because so few were bringing them in to dealerships to have the trailer hitch assemblies installed.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne on Thursday said the company has again stepped up its efforts to reach owners. Only about 137,000 of the 1.56 million owners have shown up at dealers to have trailer hitch assemblies installed, Mayne said.

As of Thursday, the Chrysler spokesman said, the company has 488,000 trailer hitch assemblies in stock.

Still, on Thursday, Friedman of NHTSA said, “They’ve told us they have nearly 400,000 parts and yet we’re getting complaints from consumers saying the dealers are telling them there aren’t any parts. Something is wrong there.”

Chrysler is committed to the safety of drivers and passengers in its products, the spokesman said.

“Chrysler Group leads the industry with a recall-repair completion rate of nearly 80 percent. The industrywide average is approximately 70 percent,” Mayne said.

After initially resisting NHTSA’s requests for a recall, Chrysler in June 2013 announced the recall of 1.56 million Jeep SUVs. They were the model years 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokee, with rear fuel tanks.

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U.S. Auto Regulator Seeks Nationwide Recall of Takata Air Bags


The U.S. auto safety regulator has told Japanese supplier Takata Corp and five automakers to expand nationwide a regional recall of potentially lethal air bags, increasing pressure on the industry to move faster in a growing scandal, reported Reuters.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also scolded Takata for what it called “an unwillingness to move forward” on a nationwide recall, and said the company needs to be open with the U.S. public about the risks of its air bags.

Takata and automakers have so far taken a targeted approach in recalling U.S. vehicles with air bags that can rupture upon deployment, shooting shrapnel into the car. Five fatalities, including four in the United States, have been linked to the air bags.

The U.S. regional recall has involved 4.1 million cars in hot and humid areas where the air bags may be prone to fail, including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and parts of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. Most of those cars are made by Honda Motor, Takata’s biggest client.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman declined to estimate how many more cars would be included in a nationwide recall.

Shares in Takata dropped by as much as 7.8 percent in Tokyo on Wednesday, and have now slid 64 percent this year to 5-1/2-year lows.

Takata has already set aside more than $750 million for recall-related costs, but Takayuki Atake, manager of credit research at SMBC Nikko Securities, warned a national recall would need more provisioning and raised the risk of a deeper credit rating downgrade than initially expected.

Japan Credit Rating Agency has put Takata’s single-A rating on negative watch. “However, risk of a (three-notch) downgrade to BBB would increase if the expanded recall leads to further erosion of shareholder equity and/or a negative impact on Takata’s capacity for generating profits and cash flow,” Atake wrote in a report.

Takata, NHTSA, Honda and Chrysler have been called to testify at a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday, where Takata will be represented by Hiroshi Shimizu, a 36-year company veteran and senior vice president of global quality assurance.

MILLIONS MORE?

Around 16 million cars with Takata air bags have been recalled worldwide over the past six years, with more than 10 million of those in the United States.

NHTSA’s Friedman said the recall expansion was prompted by an August incident involving a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina, outside the area of the regional recalls.

The agency ordered Ford, Mazda Motor, Honda, Chrysler and BMW to send notifications for replacement driver-side air bags to consumers quickly. “We will begin a process both with Takata and the automakers to force them to recall all affected” vehicles, Friedman said.

Ford, Honda, Mazda and Chrysler said they would continue to cooperate with NHTSA and plan to evaluate their call for a national recall. But each stopped short of saying they would expand beyond the current set of cars they are fixing. BMW is already recalling air bags nationally.

Spokesman Alby Berman said Takata would cooperate with regulators and automakers if an expanded recall is required, but noted that “of almost 1,000 passenger and driver inflators from outside the high humidity areas that have been evaluated to date, none have ruptured.”

“Takata is concerned that a national recall could potentially divert replacement air bags from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk,” he said in a statement.

It’s unclear just how long it could take to replace so many air bags. NHTSA said it is pressuring Takata to ramp up production of replacement parts and has said it will explore using other suppliers to help with production if needed.

Takata has said it would add two production lines at its Monclova, Mexico plant in January to make replacement air bag inflators. Workers there have told Reuters that a single line has a typical quota of around 200 inflators an hour, meaning it could take five months to make 1 million inflators working around the clock on two lines, five days a week.

NOT ENOUGH

Auto safety advocates and lawmakers said NHTSA’s latest move may still not capture the scope of the problem, is too late, and may not be enforceable.

Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said they were pleased NHTSA recognized the “national scope” of the problem,” but said the call to replace driver-side air bags should be expanded to also include passenger air bags.

NHTSA agreed in June to allow automakers to do a regional recall and use their discretion in deciding how and when to notify customers and replace faulty parts, resulting in confusion for car owners receiving mixed messages.

Friedman criticized Takata for resisting when NHTSA this week called on it to issue a defect notification nationwide for air bags of a certain design. “Takata’s initial response was an unwillingness to move forward, and frankly, that is one of the reasons we are talking to you today, because I believe everyone needs to understand that Takata needs to act,” he said.

Asked about Friedman’s comment, Takata said: “We have been dealing sincerely with U.S. authorities and … will continue to do so, prioritizing customers’ safety.”

NHTSA also addressed lingering confusion over what exactly makes some air bags explode. It said it ordered Takata to provide under oath documents and information on the propellant used in newly designed air bag inflators, after Takata recently said it had changed the chemical mix of its inflators.

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Takata Senior VP to Testify Before U.S. Senate Committee


Representatives of Takata Corp, Chrysler Group Llc, Honda Motor Co Ltd and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday to answer questions about the dangers posed by air bags supplied by Takata, reported Reuters.

The final witness list, provided by a Senate aide, includes Hiroshi Shimizu, senior vice president of global quality assurance for Takata, Scott Kunselman, senior vice president of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance for Chrysler Group, Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, and David Friedman, deputy administrator for the NHTSA, the federal agency that oversees the auto industry.

Stephanie Erdman, a victim of the Takata air bag defect, will also testify.

Over the past six years, at least five deaths have been linked to air bags supplied by Japanese safety equipment maker Takata. It was found that the air bags could rupture upon deployment, spraying metal shards inside the car. More than 17 million cars have been recalled worldwide, including more than 11 million in the United States.

The hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will begin at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) on Thursday.

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Chrysler To Start Fixing Takata Air Bags In December


Chrysler Group LLC will start repairs on about 371,000 vehicles equipped with potentially defective Takata Corp. air bag inflators in December, nearly six months after it said it would comply with a request by U.S. safety regulators to make fixes, reported The WSJ.

The company, in a letter to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration dated Nov. 5, also said it had tested in September several Takata-made inflators salvaged from affected models in Florida and concluded they were working properly.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, said it is taking the issue “very seriously” but noted numerous times in its letter that “no defect determination has been made” in the population of vehicles NHTSA is investigating. It has maintained that its field action is “not a safety recall.”

The letter, provided to The Wall Street Journal by NHTSA, contained Chrysler’s response to questions posed by the agency on Oct. 29 about a potential defect involving Takata air bags kept for prolong periods in hot, humid climates. Nine other auto makers also received letters requesting information, including Honda Motor Co. , Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW AG . The responses have yet to be posted to NTHSA’s website.

U.S. safety regulators say they are aware of six incidents in which the air bag has exploded with too much force during a collision, spraying the driver and occupants with metal fragments.

All the incidents occurred in high-humidity states and U.S. territories and one involves a 2006 Dodge Charger in southern Florida in which the driver was injured.

However, NHTSA and Takata haven’t been able to pinpoint an exact defect, leaving auto makers to decide for themselves what to do with the suspected air bags. Some are formally recalling the vehicles, while others are replacing the inflators through so-called regional service or field actions, which have less regulatory scrutiny.

Chrysler now plans to launch its field action Dec. 19 to replace Takata air bag inflators in vehicles residing in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In June, it said it would swap out the inflators at NHTSA’s request but hasn’t had parts available to make the fixes.

The company, in its letter, said it had investigated getting replacement parts from other suppliers but concluded it would take too long. It now plans to use newer Takata inflators in the repairs.

The auto maker says it has identified more than 10,000 air bag deployments on Chrysler vehicles in the U.S. equipped with the suspected inflators. Of those, it is only aware of the one air bag rupture incident on the Dodge Charger.

The company’s letter follows Honda Motor’s announcement last week that it would upgrade its so-called “regional safety campaign” to a formal recall, after testing found that air bags kept in high-humidity areas resulted in abnormal deployments.

Honda’s recall limits repairs to 13 high-humidity states and U.S. territories—specifically, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Saipan, Guam, and American Samoa. The specific number of vehicles is undetermined at this point, the company said.

Chrysler, in its letter, says there are two distinct populations of air bag inflators as defined by Takata—one that the supplier has determined to have a defect and another group still under investigation.

The company says the inflators on its models belong to the latter group, which includes air bag inflators on the driver’s side produced between Jan. 1, 2004, and June 30, 2007, and passenger side air bags made between June 1, 2000, and July 31, 2004, it said.

Chrysler estimates that about 37.8 million vehicles world-wide could be equipped with what it calls the “beta” type of inflators.

In its testing, Chrysler worked with Tataka engineers to analyze 18 drivers’ side air bag inflators obtained from Florida salvage yards and one from Chrysler’s tech lab. While they did find some traces of elevated moisture, they concluded that the air bags “would have deployed as designed in the field.”

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