Auto manufacturers typically comply with federal recall requests without much drama or outcry, but Chrysler bucked convention by publicly challenging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on its request for the company to install additional protection to approximately 2.7 million 1992-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-2007 Liberty SUV models, for the models reported susceptibility to fire in rear-end collisions. NHTSA is now officially closing its investigation on the matter, according to Automotive News.
Chrysler's main complaint about the original NHTSA finding was that the vehicles complied with all applicable federal safety standards at the time of their production, and said it was unfair to retroactively apply updated safety standards to older models. Chrysler eventually relented on its resistance, and agreed to inspect, and if necessary, install a retrofit structural enhancement. Language from both Chrysler and NHTSA was cordial and complimentary, with NHTSA said it had "no reservations" with Chrysler's plan to retrofit models with a rear hitch, and Chrysler saying it commends the agency for its "diligence" and "shares NHTSA's commitment to safety." A full report regarding the investigation is expected to be published by NHTSA within the next few weeks.
The final form of the rear structural improvement has not yet been officially revealed or announced, but many believe it will come in the form of a rear trailer hitch assembly.