Chrysler Expands Ram Pickup Recall for Takata Air Bags

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it is recalling 149,150 older model Dodge Ram pickup trucks in more U.S. states to fix faulty air bags, though not enough to satisfy U.S. regulators.

The Chrysler Group unit will replace front passenger-side air-bag inflators made by Takata Corp. in the 2003 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 in seven U.S. states and five territories, according to a statement today.

Chrysler’s original recall covered the Ram trucks and eight other vehicles only in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Ram pickups will now be recalled in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, as well as U.S. territories in American Samoa, Guam and the Mariana Islands.

“Chrysler’s latest recall is insufficient, doesn’t meet our demands, and fails to include all inflators covered by Takata’s defect information report,” David Friedman, the deputy administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a statement by e-mail. “NHTSA will determine next steps and take appropriate actions to ensure Chrysler acts to protect its customers.”

Friedman asked for the expanded recall in a Nov. 25 letter to Fiat Chrysler Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne. The agency was “extremely concerned” that the company’s recall was more limited in scope than some other automakers.

Customer Notification

Friedman had also demanded Chrysler’s notifications to customers be moved up from Dec. 19 to Dec. 1. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based unit has since moved up the initial letters to Dec. 8.

Chrysler said it’s unaware of any injuries or crashes tied to the recalled air-bag inflators. It hasn’t observed failures in lab tests of removed modules, either.

“Chrysler continues to study this issue with great urgency” the company said in its statement. “At this time, data analysis indicates the front passenger-side inflators in the affected pickups represent the only additional risk outside the above-mentioned areas.”

The trucks use a different type of inflator than the other vehicles affected by the earlier regional recall, Chrysler said.

Ford Motor Co. also responded to NHTSA’s request to expand the regional recalls for passenger-side air bags. NHTSA had no immediate comment on that action.

Its recall adds 13,000 more vehicles, including certain 2004-2005 Ford Ranger and 2005-2006 Ford GTs originally sold or later registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to an statement sent by e-mail. It also adds certain zip codes in some high-humidity states, per NHTSA’s request.

Ford said the additions bring the total number of vehicles being recalled related to Takata air-bag inflators to 98,000.

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