Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is facing a record $105 million fine for recall lapses covering millions of vehicles, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the publication, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to fine Fiat Chrysler and assign an independent monitor to audit the company’s recall processes for an extended period as part of a sweeping settlement.
The government penalties target lapses spanning nearly two dozen recalls affecting more than 11 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles, including older Jeeps with rear gasoline tanks linked to numerous fatal fires.
The fines are tied to legal violations in an array of areas, including misleading and obstructing regulators; inadequate and lagging repairs; and failing to alert car owners to recalls in a timely manner, the WSJ said.
With 1.56 million recalled Jeeps linked to deadly fires, the agency has accused Fiat Chrysler of lagging in installing trailer hitches on the backs of vehicles for added protection in lower-speed collisions. Fiat Chrysler has said vehicle owners are often unwilling to get repairs despite many outreaches from the company.
The government penalties come days after regulators separately started probing Fiat Chrysler’s handling of recalled vehicles with possible cybersecurity flaws, after hackers commandeered controls of a moving Jeep. Those vehicles aren’t included in the settlement expected to be disclosed in the coming week.
Fiat Chrysler has decided to recall 1.4 million cars in the US, after security researchers showed that one of its vehicles could be hacked.
On July 21, hackers had taken control of a Jeep Cherokee via its internet-connected entertainment system, tech magazine Wired reported.
Chrysler said it was issuing a voluntary recall to update the software in affected vehicles.
The company added that hacking its vehicles was a “criminal action”.
Fiat Chrysler said exploiting the flaw “required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code” and added manipulating its software “constitutes criminal action”.
The carmaker said it was “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation”.
It said the recall was issued to help customers with the “ongoing software distribution that insulates connected vehicles from remote manipulation”.
The issue affected up to 1.4 million vehicles sold in the US, which had been fitted with the company’s uConnect system.
The attack was accomplished using relatively cheap off-the-shelf components connected to a laptop, to create a DAB station that broadcast the malicious data.
The Fiat Chrysler recall comes soon after two senators introduced a bill to call on the US Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set standards on vehicle security for car makers.
The bill would also create a security rating system for cars so consumers would know which ones worked hardest to make unhackable cars.
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