Chrysler refused a request from a US road safety authority to recall 2.7 million of its Grand Cherokee and Liberty models even though they are believed to be at risk of a fuel tank fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the plastic fuel tanks behind the the axles of 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Liberty models can be punctured and catch fire when they are hit from behind. It was reported that at least 51 people died in car crashes resulting from fires in Chrysler SUVs. The company moved the fuel tanks on the Grand Cherokee to a position ahead of the rear axle in 2005 and did the same thing with the Liberty in 2007. Despite the redesign, Chrysler still claims that the former design is safe and not defective, and the company does not intend to recall the vehicles.
According to Reuters, Chrysler has until June 18 to formally respond to the NHTSA. If Chrysler cannot convince the NHTSA to drop the recall request, the safety agency could hold a public hearing on the matter.
This animation illustrates how fire could be resulted from a rear-end collision in a 1999 Grand Cherokee.
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