AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Bowing to pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chrysler will speed up its recall of 371,000 vehicles equipped with Takata airbags, the automaker has announced.
"With the recent enhancement of replacement parts availability from Takata, we will initiate our direct customer contact on December 8, nearly two weeks earlier than the originally agreed plan," said Chrysler in a letter to NHTSA.
However, Chrysler said it will not decide on whether to expand the regional Takata recall, as requested by NHTSA, until a review is completed on December 2.
"With respect to the expansion of the regions affected by the recall, we will immediately process this new request through our corporate committee charged with the authority to consider such decisions and will make a determination promptly following its review on December 2," the letter said.
The Chrysler recall currently is limited to vehicles sold or registered in high-humidity areas of Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
NHTSA said the recall should also include southern Georgia, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa and areas along the coast of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
NHTSA Deputy Chief David Friedman said earlier that he was "extremely concerned about both the geographic scope and the slow pace of the recall," saying it "exacerbates the risk to motorists' safety."
Chrysler is recalling the vehicles because the Takata airbags pose a risk of rupturing and spraying metal pieces at vehicle occupants.
The Chrysler recall, which is part of an industry-wide recall affecting 10 automakers, includes the 2003-'08 Dodge Ram pickup truck; 2004-'08 Dodge Durango SUV; 2007-'08 Chrysler Aspen SUV; 2005-'08 Chrysler 300 sedan; 2005-'08 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and 2006-'07 Mitsubishi Raider pickup truck.
Edmunds says: Concerned owners can wait for their recall notifications or call Chrysler's consumer hotline at 1-800-853-1403. Chrysler's brand Web sites also feature a specific link to information regarding the Takata recall.