Marchionne Forms New Safety Compliance Office

Chrysler Group renews focus on regulatory issues.

by on Aug.13, 2014

Scott Kunselman will head up Chrysler's new Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance office.

Just a few months after Sergio Marchionne hired an outside firm to examine Chrysler’s recall efforts, processes and procedures, Chrysler Group created a stand-alone group to handle safety issues and it reports directly to Marchionne.

The Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance office will be led by Senior Vice President Scott Kunselman and it “will help intensify the company’s continuing commitment to vehicle safety and regulatory compliance,” the company said.

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Prior to this, the company’s safety function was part of its global engineering group, and Chrysler’s top safety engineer previously reported to the senior vice president for engineering. While officials claim the new organization is just the result of periodic self-review, there have been plenty of reasons for the automaker to put such a group in place.

First, General Motors set up a similar group earlier this year as a response to its ignition switch recall crisis. That group has played an integral role in GM recalling more than 30 million vehicles since the end of January.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also ramping up its efforts to improve its investigatory efforts, which means it’s putting the screws to many automakers about their efforts. The agency recently accused Chrysler of moving too slowly to hire a supplier to produce new trailer hitches designed to provide additional safety for Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty SUVs in rear-end crashes.

(NHTSA failing to meet its own deadlines. For more, Click Here.)

The maker agreed to conduct a safety campaign for 1.56 million Jeep Grand Cherokees from model year 1993-98 Grand Cherokees and Libertys for the 2002-07 model years after NHTSA urged Chrysler to conduct a recall. Chrysler’s also recalled nearly 1 million vehicles for ignition switch issues similar to those in GM vehicles.

(Click Here for details on the new look for the Kia Sorento.)

Chrysler moved Kunselman, the former vice president of NAFTA Purchasing and Supplier Quality, into the new role because of his previous experience with regulatory issues. Before his last job, he was senior vice president, Engineering. He was was involved oversight of regulatory compliance, including having responsibility for vehicle testing, validation and all product development processes.

(To see more about how millennials are reshaping the car-buying process, Click Here.)

The company also announced that Tom Finelli, who was Chrysler’s director, Global Standardization, will take over for Kunselman as head of purchasing and supplier quality. John Nigro was named head of NAFTA product development, effective immediately, and also reports directly to Marchionne. He was vice president of systems and component engineering.

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