(Adds NHTSA interest in Jeep models, two crashes related to
expanded recall, background)
DETROIT, June 30 U.S. safety regulators
announced an expansion on Monday of a previous recall to include
more model years of Fiat Chrysler vehicles that have
ignition switches that can be inadvertently shut off.
Added to a previous recall were model year 2008-2009 Dodge
Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, and 2009
Dodge Journey crossover vehicles. The previous recall affected
the same three models from the 2010 model year.
Chrysler said in a statement that the expanded recall is
being done "out of an abundance of caution" and includes an
additional 695,957 vehicles, in addition to the previous recall
of 196,000 vehicles, in North America.
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration also want more information from Chrysler about
the inadvertent cutting off of engines and air bags because of
potentially faulty ignition switches on 2006-2007 Jeep Commander
and 2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. The NHTSA is also
investigating the Jeep models.
General Motors Co announced the recall on Monday of
8.23 million mostly older models, including the Chevrolet
Impala, because of ignition switch defects. Three deaths are
linked to the latest GM recall.
So far this year, GM has recalled about 29 million vehicles
worldwide, about half of them for ignition switch issues.
As for the Journey and minivans recall, the NHTSA said it
wants more information from Chrysler on why a remedy for
potentially defective ignition switches might not solve the
issue of air bags not deploying in a crash.
Chrysler said it proposed a remedy that would make it more
difficult to inadvertently bump the ignition from the "run" to
"accessory" position while driving, which turns off the engine
and the air bags.
Chrysler said it is aware of two accidents and no injuries
in the affected Journey, Grand Caravan and Town & Country
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Chris Reese and Andre