August 12, 2014 / 2:05 PM / 5 years ago

Chrysler creates vehicle safety office, puts veteran in charge

Chrysler Group assembly staff works below a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup truck at the Warren Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC on Tuesday announced the establishment of a new office called “vehicle safety and regulatory compliance” led by a veteran company senior vice president, Scott Kunselman.

The move comes as U.S. automakers are under increased scrutiny over safety issues, and after Chrysler’s cross-town rival, General Motors Co (GM.N), established a similar office earlier this year.

“This action will help intensify the company’s continuing commitment to vehicle safety and regulatory compliance,” Chrysler said in a statement.

Chrysler is fully owned by Fiat FIA.MI.

So far this year, Chrysler has recalled about 3.2 million vehicles in the United States, while GM has recalled about 25.8 million vehicles.

Prior to the establishment of the new safety office, Chrysler’s engineering group was responsible for vehicle safety and regulatory compliance.

“Effective immediately, this function will be served by a stand-alone organization,” with Kunselman reporting directly to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler said in its statement, as part of the company’s North American executive team.

Kunselman has previously been senior vice president in charge of Chrysler’s North American purchasing and supplier quality. Prior to that, he headed the company’s engineering division, which handled safety and regulatory issues.

In March, GM named a 40-year company veteran, Jeff Boyer, who had been its director of engineering operations, as its new vehicle safety chief in the wake of a series of ignition switch recalls. Boyer reports to GM’s chief executive officer, Mary Barra.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Paul Simao

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