Consumer Reports Worst of 2014 Jeep (2)

Fiat Chrysler issued a response earlier this month on the time frame of which new hitch replacement parts would be arriving and for how long. NHTSA raised concerns about the amount of time it was taking Fiat Chrysler for sourcing new parts for the hitches in the recall. The response is interesting if you read between the legalese the automaker uses.

First, here is the response:

“Chrysler is providing responses to the questions contained in NHTSA’s Special Order issued on July 2, 2014 in connection with its review of Chrysler’s schedule for conducting Recall 13V-252.

“Due to concerns raised by NHTSA about the pace of that schedule, Chrysler undertook a review of the capabilities of its hitch supplier, Northern Stamping Inc. (NSI), as well as the capabilities of (REDACTED) competitor suppliers, to determine whether the pace of hitch production could be increased. Hitch production requires specialized robotic capabilities, each group of which is called a ‘cell.’ 

“Chrysler learned that another vehicle manufacturer recently released two cells of robotic capability at NSI, and NSI was able to offer that capacity to Chrysler for hitch manufacturing. Chrysler acquired those cells and another two cells, and, as a result, there is production capacity available to build Chrysler’s estimated need of hitches by March 21, 2015.”

So, Fiat Chrysler has been trying to find sources outside of Northern Stamping Incorporated, which was part of the reason it has been taking so long. The competitor suppliers have been redacted from the response, and not even the amount of competitors they were looking at was allowed in public. However, it also looks like NSI will be able to keep up with demands because a vehicle manufacturer has released two “cells” of robotic groups needed to produce the parts.

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Chrysler has factored the number of parts required from USA VIN Counts, Active Vehicle Counts (which is an estimate of how many vehicles are still on the road, with 87.5 percent of KJ Liberties on the road, still, and 50 percent of ZJ Grand Cherokees), and the amount of non-OEM Hitches on KJ and ZJ chassis. With all of those numbers, Chrysler is confident of having enough parts to last past March 2015. The estimated recall completion rate in 24 months is 80 percent for the KJ Liberty, and 50 percent for the ZJ Grand Cherokee.

Finally, while it can be confirmed that NSI will be one of several suppliers for the recalled hitches, the number of companies actually building replacement parts, and the requirements they were to be put under have all been redacted.

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