Sports Utility Vehicle legend, Jeep has become so synonymous with off-road vehicles that the brand name is often used as a general term for SUVs. Jeep’s plans for India are in their infancy stages, but may take a beating after reports have emerged that the Wrangler poses a fire hazard. According to Bloomberg News, the Chinese government has ordered Fiat’s Chrysler group to order a probe of the Wrangler SUV that belongs to its Jeep division.
China warned owners of the vehicle to not use the Wrangler under extreme conditions as it allegedly has a high risk of catching fire. Jeeps are not manufacturer or assembled in China and are direct imports. This is not the first time such an incident has occurred.
In April 2011, imports of the Jeep Wrangler were stopped as inspections detected fire risks with the gear-box according to the statement that came out at the end of 2011. Imports of the SUV were restarted in 2012, after Chrysler replaced the defective components and carried out a series of safety and precautionary measures.
Owners of the Wrangler were advised to inspect the chassis and engine bay, remove any potentially flammable parts that posed a threat. This statement was issued by the General Administration of Quality,Supervision,Inspection and Quarantine on its website today.
However, there was no mention of the number of vehicles involved or if the owners made any alterations to the vehicles. A similar occurrence took place at a recent super-car rally in Mumbai where an Audi R8 caught fire on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Later on an investigation revealed that the car’s engine had been customized improperly which led to the incident.
Chrysler issued a statement requesting Wrangler owners to follow the instruction manual carefully. They specifically pointed out that the under-carriage of the vehicle must be cleaned after any off-road driving and surfaces such as dry grass should not be used to park the car. Chrysler also stated that they have provided off-road driving education and free under-body cleaning for Wrangler owners since 2011.
The timing of this probe is less than ideal as Jeep is set to begin the production of their vehicles in China. Much like India, localization is key to offer competitive pricing, as direct imports invite a duty of 25%. Jeep currently manufactures six vehicles. Namely the Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Compass, Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited and Patriot
Source: Bloomberg News