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Chrysler Creates New Unit Focused on Vehicle Safety

Chrysler Group LLC has created a new unit focused on vehicle safety and regulatory compliance as auto recalls attract renewed scrutiny amid U.S.probes of rival General Motors Co. for its slow reaction to flawed ignitions.

Scott Kunselman, a senior vice president, will head the new unit at Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, according to a statement from the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company. Kunselman will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who is also CEO of Turin, Italy-based Fiat SpA, Chrysler’s owner. Previously, Chrysler’s global engineering group was responsible for vehicle safety and regulatory compliance.

Vehicle recalls, while nothing new in the auto industry, have received more public attention this year after GM, the biggest U.S. automaker, attracted regulatory scrutiny for not being fast enough to call back 2.59 million small cars with ignition flaws linked to at least 13 deaths. Chrysler last month said it would recall more than 790,000 Jeep sport-utility vehicles as part of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigations into ignition switches.

Today’s “action will help intensify the company’s continuing commitment to vehicle safety and regulatory compliance,” Chrysler said.

Kunselman, who had been in charge of NAFTA purchasing and supplier quality, will remain part of the automaker’s NAFTA leadership team focusing solely on vehicle safety and regulatory compliance. Tom Finelli, director of global standardization, will assume responsibility for purchasing and supplier quality and join the company’s NAFTA leadership team effective immediately, according to the statement.

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