FAT FINE FOR FIATCOMPANY’S SAFETY DEFECTS COSTEM $105,000,000

FIAT – CRAP QUALITY THEN AND NOW, LOOKS LIKE.

You think GM made some awful cars in the 80s? Fiat, in my teenage suburban circle, stood for “Fix It Again, Tony.” To whit:

1976 FiatThe first ride I ever bought was a 1976 Fiat 128 hatchback whose engine would quit whenever it rained. I carried a can of spray dryer with me, which I’d use when the car inevitably gasped and stalled during storms. I’d wait 10 or 15 minutes, start ‘er up and get home, most of the time. Curiously, this did not happen during snowstorms. Even more curiously, I didn’t dump this car for a couple of years, until the clutch cable snapped.

The Italian company made a sweet comeback in 2011, though. I drove one and reported about it here.

Now it’s Fix It Again, Tony, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has acknowledged violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act’s requirements to repair vehicles with safety defects and will submit to rigorous federal oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and agreed to a $105 million civil penalty, the largest ever imposed by the Department.

The enforcement action comes after a July 2 public hearing at which NHTSA officials outlined problems with Fiat Chrysler’s execution of 23 vehicle safety recalls covering more than 11 million defective vehicles. Fiat Chrysler has since admitted to violating the Safety Act in three areas: effective and timely recall remedies, notification to vehicle owners and dealers and notifications to NHTSA.

In a consent order issued by NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler committed to taking action to get defective vehicles fixed or replaced. Owners of more than half a million vehicles with defective suspension parts that could cause the vehicle to lose control will have the opportunity to sell their vehicle back to Fiat Chrysler. Owners of more than a million Jeeps that are prone to deadly fires either will have the chance to trade their vehicle in for above its market value, or will receive a financial incentive to get their vehicle remedied.

The consent order requires FCA to notify vehicle owners eligible for buybacks and other financial incentives that these new options are available. The automaker also agrees to unprecedented oversight for the next three years.

$105 million may not seem like a lot when Chrysler’s global income for all of 2013 was $2.8 billion, but it’s still a major, public penalty, and one that shows the NHTSA is serious about injuries and fatalities, as they should be.

That’s your mother, father, sister, brother, son, child or significant other out there, after all.

– Auto Gigolo

Follow me on the Facebooks, please.