NHTSA signs off on Chrysler jeep recall despite doubts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has approved Chrysler's (FIATY) recall of 1.6M Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicles that have the gas tank located behind the rear axle and are therefore deemed more vulnerable to fires in the event of a crash from the behind.

The NHTSA originally wanted Chrysler to recall 2.7M vehicles, but reduced the number after the car maker refused to comply with the agency's request.

Chrysler plans to install a trailer-towing hitch to shield the gas tank even though former Chrysler executive Francois Castaing, who was in charge of engineering at the company when the first Grand Cherokee was designed, has said that "the tow package does not protect the tank." Even Chrysler has acknowledged the limited safety impact of the hitch.

Separately, Chrysler said December vehicle production climbed 16% to 187,764, while 2013 output rose 5.8%, led by light trucks.

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