Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles announced Friday it has hired an independent monitor to oversee the recall of millions of its vehicles, however the monitor they’ve hired also lobbies on behalf of troubled Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp., creating a conflict of interest, the Associated Press reports.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently put an order out indicating FCA must hire an independent monitor after misbehavior was found in regards to their various recalls. The automaker provided the NHTSA with a list of three candidates to choose from, and Slater was picked.
Slater was upfront with the NHTSA about lobbying for Takata, which is in hot water currently as its airbags can explode too forcefully and launch shrapnel at the vehicle’s occupants. One of the FCA recalls Slater is supposed to oversee involves faulty Takata airbags in Ram pickups, but the NHTSA maintains his appointment isn’t a conflict of interest.
“The company and NHTSA both examined that and determined that for the purpose of monitoring Fiat Chrysler’s compliance with the consent order that it was not a conflict of interest,” NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said.
Some safety advocates disagree, saying Trowbridge can’t defend Takata while simultaneously overseeing a recall involving its products.
“Chrysler has hired Slater because they want a yes man,” said former NHTSA director and safety advocate Joan Claybrook. “This completely undercuts the important work NHTSA has done in showing Chrysler has violated safety recall rules. There is a clear need for an independent monitor.”
FCA says it “looks forward to working with Secretary Slater in fulfilling the Company’s Consent Order commitments,” going forward.