Chrysler recalls Jeep and Dodge SUVs as market sensitivity rises

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Tommaso Ebhardt Milan

Chrysler Group is recalling 867 795 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to install a shield to protect brake boosters from water corrosion.

Vehicles from model years 2011 through 2014 would be inspected and the boosters replaced where necessary, the car maker said in a statement.

The US division of Fiat said it had started an investigation following customer complaints about excessive brake-pedal firmness. Fiat stock fell for the first time in seven trading days.

New models, increasingly complex technology and heightened regulatory scrutiny had led to more automotive recalls, consulting company Stout Risius Ross said in a study last month.

Chrysler’s announcement follows US congressional testimony on Tuesday by General Motors (GM) chief executive Mary Barra about why her company took more than a decade to fix faulty ignition switches implicated in 13 crash-related deaths.

“Clearly the market is very sensitive to recalls after the GM issue,” Vincenzo Longo, a strategist at IG Group in Milan, said. Chrysler’s announcement “gives investors a reason to sell Fiat stock after it rose [on Tuesday] to the highest since 2007”.

Fiat stock fell as much as 2.3 percent in Milan yesterday. The stock has climbed 45 percent this year, valuing the vehicle maker at e10.8 billion (R157.2bn).

BMW, the biggest luxury vehicle maker, said yesterday that it was recalling 232 098 cars and SUVs in China to repair engine defects.

The German manufacturer took the voluntary action to fix a defective bolt design that may damage the motor or cause it to fail to start.

BMW would investigate whether the problem existed in other markets and communicate its finding later, Bernhard Santer, a company spokesman, said.

Volkswagen (VW), Europe’s largest vehicle manufacturer, undertook a repair programme for more than 380 000 vehicles in China last year after state television featured complaints about vibrations, loss of power and sudden acceleration in Golfs and other cars.

VW’s Porsche division took the rare step last month of advising customers worldwide to stop driving 911 GT3 sports cars until the luxury vehicle unit could fix loose fasteners that were to blame for engine fires.

Recalls this year by Chrysler, which Italy-based Fiat acquired full control of in January, have involved headlight components and brake hose flaws.

The brake booster repair programme included 644 354 SUVs in the US, 42 380 in Canada, 21 376 in Mexico and 159 685 elsewhere, Chrysler said yesterday. The company said it was aware of one related accident and no injuries.

“Certain vehicles have brake boosters with small crimp joints, and these joints may exhibit corrosion when exposed to water,” Chrysler said. “Should water enter the boosters through corroded joints, a previously unseen occurrence, brake function may be compromised if the water freezes.”

GM is facing a growing number of lawsuits over recalls of at least 2.59 million small cars for the ignition-switch fault. A lawyer for vehicle owners urged in a filing on Monday that the cases be consolidated. This year, GM has recalled almost 7 million vehicles worldwide. – Bloomberg


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