Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has begun a phased campaign to become compliant with the United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). To become compliant with emissions standards, FCA has recalled almost 900,000 vehicles; making it similar to some of the recent high profile recall campaigns. Some that come to mind are the Takata airbag inflators recall or Volkswagen diesel car recall.
This recall began after the FCA found and alerted the EPA to an issue discovered during customary in-use testing on aging vehicles as mandatorily set by federal regulations. The tests exposed the washcoat inside the catalytic converters were being affected by the sulfur in the gasoline; causing them to fail.
According to the FCA, every vehicle recalled has a four-cylinder engine and a catalytic converter. The purpose of the campaign the FCA is performing is to replace all these catalytic converters and perform engine calibration on the recalled vehicles.
While the FCA will not disclose how much this recall will be it can be deduced this process will become inherently expensive due to two reasons. One, the total number of replacements that will have to take place. Two, the replacement of the catalytic converters; involving valuable metals and costly, labor-intensive work. Based on estimations of the usual 40 percent retail margin on repair parts, the FCA will have to pay about 370 dollars for each converter.
To offset this no doubt expensive process, the FCA can recycle the used catalytic converters obtained from the recalled vehicles. Fairly common for the FCA to do, it can recycle the following materials from the catalytic converters: platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
As for the labor involved with catalytic converters, there is no clear way to cut costs. Since every vehicle is different, some of them may require multiple parts to be removed before there is clear access to the converter. Additionally, every vehicle has a different amount of exposure or damage. So damaging factors such as road salt, rust, or brittle bolts could not only make it difficult to reach the converter but add time to each repair.
Beside expenses, another concern the FCA has to face is customer engagement. While emissions issue is important, it is not held in as high regard as something such as a safety issue would to customers. Consequently, getting owners to bring in their vehicle, may be difficult.
The FCA plans to face the obstacle of customer engagement with their “recall playbook”. The FCA sent news of the recall by mail, which started last month. If this form of communication does not work, the FCA is prepared to go a step further and change course; going as far as to notifying consumers through social media.