US reportedly ready to hit Fiat Chrysler with record $105M fine

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP Source: US to hit Fiat Chrysler with record $105M fine.

DETROIT (AP) – The U.S. government will hit Fiat Chrysler with a record $105 million fine next week for violating laws in a series of vehicle safety recalls, a person briefed on the matter said. At the insistence of federal regulators, Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 843,000 pickups because slamming the door too hard could set off the air bag meant to provide head protection in a side-impact crash, according to a report by the automaker posted Saturday on the regulator’s website.SAN FRANCISCO: Fiat Chrysler will recall 1.4 million vehicles in the United States to install software to prevent hackers from gaining remote control of the engine, steering and other systems in what federal officials said was the first such action of its kind. The announcement on Friday by FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, was made days after reports that cyber security researchers used a wireless connection to turn off a Jeep Cherokee’s engine as it drove, increasing concerns about the safety of internet-enabled vehicles. On the line was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, with news that two technology researchers had hacked wirelessly into a Jeep Cherokee through its dashboard connectivity system.

In addition to the U.S. vehicles, about 153,000 are being recalled in Canada, 8,300 in Mexico and 15,000 outside North America, a spokesman for Chrysler, Eric Mayne, said in an email. They had managed to gain control of not just features like the radio and air-conditioning, but the actual functions of the vehicle: the engine, the brakes and the steering. The company will make payments to owners of 1.56 million recalled older-model Jeeps with gas tanks behind the rear axle to bring them to dealers to install trailer hitches to help protect the tanks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Friday it would investigate whether FCA’s solution to upgrade software was enough to protect consumers from hackers, although FCA said in its recall announcement that it was unaware of any injuries. The agency’s actions come less than a month after it held a rare public hearing to detail problems with 23 Fiat Chrysler recalls covering more than 11 million cars and trucks.

Launching a recall is the right step to protect Fiat Chrysler’s customers, and it sets an important precedent for how NHTSA and the industry will respond to cyber-security vulnerabilities. Instead, Chrysler wanted to notify owners that a fix was available, but the safety agency disagreed and insisted on a recall that requires every vehicle to be fixed and requires progress reports.

At the July 2 hearing, NHTSA detailed an alarming litany of shortfalls: failure to notify customers of recalls, delays in making and distributing repair parts, and in some cases failing to come up with repairs that fix the problems. After the hearing, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters that Fiat Chrysler would surely be punished. “There’s a pattern that’s been going on for some time,” he said. And if drivers were vulnerable to an attack where they could lose control of their cars, that would certainly seem to qualify, even though a recall for a Web security threat had never before taken place.

In the meantime, the researchers made their findings known last Tuesday in an article published by the news technology site Wired, telling how they had taken control of a cooperating driver’s car from 16km away as it sped down a St Louis highway. Fiat Chrysler subsequently issued a statement saying it would send affected owners a USB drive that they could plug into their vehicles to install an update to block the hacking vulnerability. Last Friday, Mr Valasek posted on social media that when he tried connecting again to his test Jeep, the pathway through Sprint’s network had been blocked.

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