(CN) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was fined a record $105 million over lapses in safety recalls involving millions of its vehicles, the National Highway Safety Administration announced.
The agency said the consent agreement it signed with the Italian-U.S. automaker is unprecedented in another way – it includes a buyback option potentially covering perhaps as many as 1 million Jeep sport utility vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of other cars and trucks.
Under the terms of the agreement, consumers will be able to trade-in their current vehicle or receive a financial “incentive” to get them repaired.
The automaker also agreed to submit to an audit of its recall performance over the next three years by an independent monitor.
“Fiat Chrysler’s pattern of poor performance put millions of its customers and the driving public at risk,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a written statement.
“This action will provide relief to owners of defective vehicles, will help improve recall performance throughout the auto industry, and gives Fiat Chrysler the opportunity to embrace a proactive safety culture,” Rosekind said.
The fine suggests that the agency is becoming more aggressive in going after automakers. In January it ordered Honda Motor Co. to pay what was then a record fine of $70 million for failing to report death, injury and other claims.
In 2014, it fined General Motors $35 million for failing to report that faulty ignition switches were tied to more than 100 deaths.
In a statement, Fiat Chrysler acknowledged that some of its recall processes and procedures have come up short.
“We also accept the resulting consequences with renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us,” the company said.
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