Fiat Chrysler (FCA) will have to shell out an additional $70 million in civil penalties for failing to report legally required safety data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
FCA in September admitted that if had failed, over several years, to provide Early Warning Report data to NHTSA as required by law. The fine is added to a July consent order imposed following FCA's dismal response to more than 20 recalls involving 11 million vehicles.
Including the new penalty, the civil penalties from that investigation now total $175 million, with $140 million due in cash and another $35 million in deferred penalties that will come due if the company fails to meet its obligations under the consent order.
Early Warning Reports include reports of deaths and injuries, warranty claims, consumer complaints and field reports of safety issues. NHTSA uses these data to identify and investigate potential defects that may require a safety recall.
"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," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
NHTSA notified FCA in late July of apparent discrepancies in the company's early warning reporting. In September, the company reported to NHTSA that in investigating that discrepancy, it had found significant under-reporting of death and injury claims and other information.
In addition to the new civil penalty, FCA must report on the results of its third-party audit and provide missing early warning data. Also, the independent monitor appointed under the July 24 consent order will monitor the company's early warning compliance.
FCA is hardly the first automaker to get hit with a fine for failing to report data. In fact, in just over a year, five vehicle manufacturers have been penalized for not following the law. In January, NHTSA slapped Honda with a $70 million fine for not providing early warning reports that included 1,700 death and injury claims. Other automakers include Ferrari, motorcycle manufacturer Triumph, and specialty vehicle manufacturers Forest River and Spartan Motors.
Under the terms of the consent order amendment, FCA acknowledges significant failures in early warning reporting dating to the beginning of the requirements in 2003. The failures stem from problems in FCA's electronic system for monitoring and reporting safety data, including improper coding and failure to account for changes in brand names.