Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the first manufacturer to feel the sting of the biggest fine issued by America’s vehicle safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for failing to issue safety recalls involving millions of vehicles.
The vehicles affected are as old as 2008 models and include the Dodge Ram, Dakota and Chrysler Aspen trucks with faulty suspension parts that can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Ringing in at $105 million, the fine is composed of a $70 million cash payment, a $20 million commitment by Fiat to improve its recall process, an additional $15 million that Fiat will have to pay if it is caught committing further violations and an agreement by the automaker to open up their book to an independent monitor’s audit regarding its recall performance over a three-year period.
For vehicles owners, the Fiat penalty includes a buyback option that will allow them to either trade-in for a new unit or be offered a financial motivation to drive their vehicles to the dealership for repair.
The NHTSA is tightening up on auto regulations after being criticized by lawmakers for the less than stellar handling of previous recalls.