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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — In the first arbitration case involving Chrysler and one of its rejected dealers, the arbitrator ruled in favor of the automaker, Chrysler announced late last week.

The arbitration — which happened April 14 in Cleveland — was between Chrysler and Joe Kidd Dodge, a dealership in the Cincinnati area that was cut in the automaker's bankruptcy process last year.
"Chrysler Group is pleased the arbitrator agreed with the difficult dealer network decisions made during the bankruptcy proceedings," Chrysler officials said in a statement. "There is no denying that Chrysler Group's and the public's economic interests are inextricably linked.

"Chrysler Group not only employed sound business judgment but is acting in the greater public interest by protecting the dealer network that was created as a result of the bankruptcy proceedings," they added.

Looking forward, executives suggested that its dealership network has been right-sized to help its dealers "be successful."

"We are confident we now have the dealer network in place that allows dealers to be successful, which will result in greater investment in their communities, employees and customers and, ultimately will enable the Chrysler Group to repay the U.S. taxpayers in a timely manner," they noted.

Chrysler Responds to NHTSA Investigation 

In other news involving the automaker, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed Chrysler that it has launched an investigation into a possible sticking accelerator pedal issue in the 2007 model-year Dodge Caliber.

"The accelerator pedal can stick or bind and not return to the idle position when it is released," said NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation.

There have been five complaints of sticking accelerator pedals in the model brought to ODI, officials noted.

"The subject vehicles are equipped with electronic throttle control (ETC). The ETC accelerator pedal assemblies are manufactured by the CTS Corporation," ODI indicated. "Four of the complainants report that they had found either one or two ‘bushings' on the driver's side floor.

"The bushings act as a bearing for the pivot shaft for the accelerator pedal arm," ODI noted. "When the bushings are not present the pedal arm can become misaligned and prevent it from returning to the idle position."

Chrysler said it is unaware of any related accidents, injuries or property damage, and that it believes the issue to be a "supplier manufacturing concern." No reports of crashes/fires, injury incidents or fatality incidents have been reported to ODI.  

"The company's initial examination of customer complaints finds they are limited to a small group of vehicles built during a five week window in March and April of 2006," Chrysler officials shared. "It appears to be a supplier manufacturing concern, which is mechanical in nature and not a design or electronic issue.

"Additionally, the Dodge Caliber is equipped with a brake override system," they added. "If a disagreement occurs between the throttle and the brake, the engine controller will reduce power, allowing the operator to stop the car. Chrysler Group has been using brake override technology in its vehicles since 2003."

Chrysler said it will "cooperate fully" with authorities, and said that concerned customers who own a 2007 model-year Dodge built between March 2006 and April 2006 can get a free accelerator pedal inspection at their local Dodge dealerships.

If a customer is unsure of whether his vehicle fits the criteria, the individual can talk to their local dealer or phone Chrysler Customer Care at (800) 992-1997.