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Wednesday
Jun082011

Safety Advocates Demand Government Recall Jeep Grand Cherokee

PRNewsFoto/Chrysler Group LLC, Lily Kesselman(WASHINGTON) -- The Center for Auto Safety is demanding the government recall 2.2 million Jeep Grand Cherokees, model years 1993 through 2004, because of what they say is a defective fuel tank design that can cause the gas tank to rupture in a crash.

"For the Center for Auto Safety, this is the most dangerous vehicle on the road today and we want it recalled," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the advocacy organization.

The center says that at least 55 people have died in crashes in which fire was "the most harmful factor."

Ditlow said the problem is that the fuel tank is located behind the rear axle.

"You can have the tank itself rupture, you can have the filler hoses pull off as they did in some of our crash tests, and it's just a terrible design," Ditlow told ABC News.

Chrysler disputes the Center for Auto Safety's test results, telling ABC News the test was "three times as severe" as the government standard and that the vehicle meets or exceeds federal standards.

The company added, "Rear impacts resulting in a fire are extremely rare...[and] occur no more often in 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles than in peer vehicles."

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is investigating the vehicle's safety, declined to comment on the crash test.

The Center for Auto Safety independently tested the Grand Cherokees after the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) allegedly engaged in a bureaucratic turf war over who was supposed to administer the testing.

"It's terrible," said Ditlow. "It's one agency saying, This is my turf, stay out, but what both agencies are forgetting is, it's the consumers and the Jeep Grand Cherokees that are on the roads of America that are dying in fire crashes."

Chrysler changed the Cherokees' design in 2005, moving the fuel tank in front of the rear axle. It says the changes were made to expand cargo space and had nothing to do with safety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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