Chrysler Probe Expands

Two years ago NHTSA launched an investigation into whether an usual number of Chrysler vehicles caught fire after rear end collisions. Originally the focus was on 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokees. Now NHTSA has added an additional 2.1 million Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Liberty SUVs manufactured between 1993 and 2001.

Central to the investigation are concerns of the plastic rear mounted gas tank which may lead to higher incidence of fires. So far NHTSA has received reports of 15 deaths and 41 injuries related to this potential problem.

According to a government analysis, there is “a higher incidence of rear-impact, fatal fire crashes for the Jeep products.”

Chrysler officials downplay the issue, though David Dillon, Chrysler’s head of product investigations, acknowledged in an interview with the Detroit News that, “Grand Cherokee may have more of these events than their competitors.” But, on the whole, Dillon insisted, “Those vehicles essentially are performing the same as their peers.”

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