As The Associated Press writes, "a defiant Chrysler is refusing to recall about 2.7 million Jeeps the government says are at risk of a fuel tank fire in a rear-end collision."
The Detroit Free Press says the company has "put its reputation for safety and quality on the line" by initially saying "no" to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's request.
"Chrysler must feel like it has a compelling reason to take such a bold stand," Michelle Krebs, an auto analyst with Edmunds.com, tells the Free Press. "Since Toyota was publicly humiliated for dragging its feet on recalls just a few years ago, automakers have been quick to recall vehicles at NHTSA's request."
The models involved are Jeep Grand Cherokees built from 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys built from 2002 through 2007. According to the AP report, NHTSA found "that the Jeeps' fuel tanks can fail when hit from the rear, leak fuel and cause fires if there's an ignition source. The placement of the tanks behind the rear axle and their height above the road is a design defect, NHTSA wrote in a letter to Chrysler dated Monday."
Meanwhile, the wire service adds, "Chrysler says its review of nearly 30 years of data shows a low number of rear-impact crashes involving fire or a fuel leak in the affected Jeeps. 'The rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question,' the company said in a statement."
According to The Detroit News:
"Chrysler has until June 18 to formally respond to NHTSA's request. The agency could then issue a formal finding and hold a public hearing seeking a recall. Chrysler last objected to a recall in 1997."