Center for Auto Safety targets Jeep Grand Cherokee

June 14, 2011 12:00 AM

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), a consumer group, is demanding that Chrysler recall 2.2 million Jeep Grand Cherokees made between 1993 and 2004, but the automaker isn't having any of it.

CAS was founded by Ralph Nader in the 1970s, and frequently takes both automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to task for perceived oversights. In the wake of the Toyota recall scandal, the NHTSA has been cracking down on automakers and forcing them to recall models for small issues, taking a "better safe than sorry" approach. CAS still thinks that approach is too light on automakers.

They're staging their battle over the Grand Cherokee, a popular SUV model. The group claims that rear impacts with the car can ignite the fuel tank, saying that 55 people have died because of this flaw.

"For the Center for Auto Safety, this is the most dangerous vehicle on the road today and we want it recalled," Clarence Ditlow, executive director of CAS, told ABC News.

Yet Chrysler says that the issue is not a safety flaw, just something that can happen when the fuel tank is placed in the back. The automaker says rear impacts are very rare, but the Grand Cherokee holds no greater risk than any other model. Chrysler also claims that the vehicles underwent tests that were "three times as rigorous" as required.

Future versions of the Grand Cherokee did move the tank up front, but Chrysler says this was for cargo space. The NHTSA is investigating the matter, as it is the only body with the authority to order a recall. 

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