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Chrysler agrees to recall 2.7 mln Jeeps over fire risks

CHICAGO, June 18 (Xinhua) — U.S. auto giant Chrysler Group LLC said Tuesday it has agreed to recall 2.7 million older-model Jeeps over fire risks, averting a showdown with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Auburn Hills-based automaker said it would recall the 1993- 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002-07 Jeep Liberty SUVs.

Chrysler Group will conduct a voluntary campaign with respect to the vehicles in question, in addition to a visual inspection of the vehicle, if necessary, will provide an upgrade to the rear structure of the vehicle to better manage crash forces in low- speed impacts, according to local media the Detroit News.

However, the automaker isn’t agreeing that there is a formal defect. "Chrysler Group’s analysis of the data confirms that these vehicles are not defective and are among the safest in the peer group," it says.

"Nonetheless, Chrysler Group recognizes that this matter has raised concerns for its customers and wants to take further steps, in coordination with NHTSA, to provide additional measures to supplement the safety of its vehicles," the automaker said.

It came after two weeks ago that Chrysler defied a NHTSA request to recall the vehicles. The government sought the recall after a lengthy probe into rear-end collisions in which at least 51 people died. According to NHTSA’s assessment, plastic gas tanks behind the axles of 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Libertys can be punctured and catch fire when the SUVs are hit from behind.

Chrysler, which moved the gas tank location in later Jeep models, has defended the former design as safe.

It is rare for an automaker to refuse a recall request. NHTSA can call public hearings into the issue and order a recall, but it needs a court order to enforce it. By agreeing to the recall, Chrysler is avoiding the public relations impact of a hearing that would likely have included dramatic testimony from victims’ relatives.

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