After a record fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you might think Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) would be on its best behavior.
However, after an internal investigation, the automaker has discovered that is not the case. FCA informed NHTSA in late July that the company had under-reported claims and notices of injuries and death, in defiance of U.S. law. The probe began after NHTSA informed the automaker of a discrepancy in its Early Warning Reporting (EWR) data.
FCA has been subject to a NHTSA consent decree since July. This agreement required the company to overhaul its recall and defect practices and compelled the hire of an independent monitor to investigate safety issues. A statement issued by FCA indicates that this heightened scrutiny resulted in discovery of the under-reporting.
"This represents a significant failure to meet a manufacturer's safety responsibilities," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. "NHTSA will take appropriate action after gathering additional information on the scope and causes of this failure."
Rosekind said early information suggests that FCA's under-reporting was caused by, "a number of problems with FCA's systems for gathering and reporting EWR data."
The EWR system was put in place by the 2000 Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. The system is intended to isolate automotive defects before they endanger individuals and lead to expensive recalls.