Fiat Chrysler Fined $70 Million For Hiding Deaths From Feds

Justin Hyde
·Managing Editor
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U.S. auto safety regulators on Thursday fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles $70 million for failing to report deaths and injury data in its vehicles, bringing the automaker’s total fines for safety-related issues this year to $175 million.

The fines, agreed to by Fiat Chrysler, come with requirements for the company to have an independent auditor oversee its safety defect reporting and make steps to improve its processes. Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation say Fiat Chrysler failed to file what’s known as “early warning” data—everything from lawsuits and warranty claims to deadly crashes reported to the automaker—that can be used to spot vehicle defects.

“Accurate, early-warning reporting is a legal requirement, and it’s also part of a manufacturer’s obligation to protect the safety of the traveling public,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We need FCA and other automakers to move toward a stronger, more proactive safety culture, and when they fall short, we will continue to exercise our enforcement authority to set them on the right path.”

Earlier this year, the government fined Honda $70 million for also failing to report some 1,700 deaths, injuries and other incidents to regulators. Officials have not specified how many reports Fiat Chrysler overlooked, but said the mistakes date back to 2003, when the government first began collecting such data following the Ford-Firestone debacle.

The latest fine adds to one issued in July, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a rare public hearing to excoriate Fiat Chrysler’s mishandling of 23 recalls covering 11 million vehicles. Under both penalties, Fiat-Chrysler has to pay $140 million, while $35 million is suspended and will come due if it fails to make promised changes.