On Thursday, December 10th U.S. auto safety regulators fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $70 million for failing to disclose deaths and injury data for its vehicles. Combined with a $105 million settlement with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in July, Chrysler’s total annual fines for safety-related issues stands at $175 million. The recent fine comes with requirements for the company to have an independent auditor oversee its safety defect reporting. Major automotive companies are required to electronically submit massive amounts of information involving vehicle crashes, deaths, lawsuits, warranty claims and other information.This is the latest fine imposed by the US auto safety agency after harsh criticism from Congress for not being more aggressive with enforcing safety laws. More information regarding Fiat Chrysler’s failure to disclose safety information can be found in this NY Times article.
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Since 2012 the NHTSA has issued $261,000,000 in civil fines against Chrysler, Honda, Ford, Toyota, GM, and Hyundai for failure to report injury and death safety data and for failure to timely issue records. It is concerning that manufacturers may be viewing these fines as simply the cost of doing business and not as motivation to improve safety. Other manufacturers such as VW have admitted to software manipulation to fool US regulators and consumers.