A federal investigation regarding the fuel tank integrity of the 1993-2004MY Jeep Grand Cherokee has been upgrade to an Engineering Analysis and has also been expanded to include two more Jeep models, the 1993-2001MY Cherokee and the 2002-2007MY Liberty.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that the data it collected during a preliminary evaluation indicates that rear-impact-related tank failures and vehicle fires are more prevalent in said Grand Cherokee models than in the non-Jeep peer vehicles.
In addition, the safety agency said that it found a higher incidence of rear-impact, fatal fire crashes for the three Jeep products than in similar vehicles from the same model years and which include the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Explorer, and Toyota 4Runner.
The Failure Report Summary from the NHTSA says that fires related to rear-impact crashes in the Grand Cherokee may have caused up to 48 fatalities through 2010.
The total number of Jeep vehicles the agency is now looking into is an estimated 5.1 million units.
The Chrysler Group, on its behalf, issued a press statement saying that, "it is important to note that this is still an investigation, not a recall."
The full statement from Chrysler follows below.
"June 14, 2012 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Chrysler Group is cooperating fully with NHTSA regarding an investigation into 1993-2004 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee, 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokee and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty vehicles. It is important to note that this is still an investigation, not a recall.
In connection with this investigation, Chrysler Group studied publicly available data involving more than 21,000 rear impacts in the original subject vehicle – the 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee -- and peers.
It is apparent from this study that rear impacts resulting in a fire are extremely rare, rear impacts resulting in a fire occur no more often in 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles than in peer vehicles and the 1993 – 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles are at no greater risk of exposure to fire in rear end collisions than peer vehicles.
Accordingly, Chrysler Group has concluded that 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles are neither defective nor do their fuel systems pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety in rear impact collisions. We would expect that a similar analysis of subject vehicles recently added to this investigation would support a similar conclusion. The 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee and other subject vehicles meet or exceed all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards and have excellent safety records with hundreds of billions of vehicle miles driven."