Suppliers for Chrysler Group will commence this week the production of trailer hitch assemblies aimed at protecting fuel tanks of 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-2007 Jeep Libertys, almost a year after the carmaker agreed to fix the vehicles, according to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The assemblies will then be installed to around 1.56 million Grand Cherokees and Libertys by dealers. Chrysler took a $151 million charge in the second quarter of 2013 to cover the cost of the assemblies, which will be mounted on three sides around gasoline tanks to help shield them during low-energy crashes.
According to Chrysler, service techs will need a new tool, which is currently being crafted by a supplier, for the installation of the assemblies. In early June 2013, NHTSA insisted that Chrysler recall 2.7 million Jeeps due to high incidence of fires during high-energy rear-end collisions. The carmaker, however, disagreed with NHTSA.
Chrysler claimed the concerned SUVs were not defective and were able to comply with the standards applicable at the time they were produced. Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne reached an agreement with NHTSA to end the formal request for a recall.
Under the agreement, Chrysler’s dealers will inspect the older Jeeps and install Mopar hitch assemblies on vehicles that lack them. The carmaker will contact customers to schedule inspections.
Chrysler said program’s implementation was as it has to find and enlist multiple new supplier partners “who required time to acquire the necessary tooling." According to Chrysler, its engineers had to develop new installation protocols to make sure that the assemblies are installed correctly on the vehicles.