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FCA tries to dodge public hearing

The company argues that its recall completion rate is nearly the highest in the industry, and private discourse with the NHTSA would be more helpful than a public hearing.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has defended its recall handling and dismissed the need to move forward with the public hearing organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency has raised concerns about the completion rates and other issues involving 20 different recall campaigns, including a controversial program to install trailer hitches on older Jeep models to prevent fuel-tank fires in rear-end collisions.

FCA argues that its overall recall completion rate is "nearly the best in the industry," second only to BMW, with 77 percent of recalled vehicles brought in for service. The company further claims to be compliant with existing regulations and already implementing programs to further improve completion rates, though it admits to exceeding the mandatory 60-day owner notification window for five of the campaigns highlighted by the NHTSA.

"FCA US believes our approach to review and identify with NHTSA input, and implement changes based on the learnings obviates the need for a hearing," the company says in its formal response to the NHTSA concerns. "Instead, the focus on implementation and discussion with NHTSA of key metrics to assess effectiveness of these initiatives may better and more likely help to solidify gains."

Despite the plea, the NHTSA has not publicly indicated any plans to cancel the July 2 hearing.

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