Chrysler Group said on June 4 it will not comply with a formal request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall approximately 2.7 million 1993-2004 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles and 2002-2007 model-year Jeep Liberty vehicles.

After conducting a years-long investigation, NHTSA concluded the fuel tank in these vehicles has a defect that makes it susceptible to catching fire in rear-end crashes. The agency alleges that 51 deaths are linked to the problem.

In a released statement, Chrysler said it “does not agree with NHTSA’s conclusions and does not intend to recall the vehicles cited in the investigation. The subject vehicles are safe and are not defective.”

Chrysler said the agency’s initial conclusions are “based on an incomplete analysis of the underlying data.” The automaker added it plans to continue working with NHTSA to resolve the disagreement.

Chrysler noted that it has provided data on the issue to NHTSA since September 2010.

The vehicles, the automaker said, “met and exceeded all applicable requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSS 301, pertaining to fuel-system integrity.”

Chrysler said its analysis “shows the incidents, which are the focus of this request, occur less than once for every million years of vehicle operation. This rate is similar to comparable vehicles produced and sold during the time in question.”

If the two sides fail to resolve the issue, the federal government might choose to further pursue the recall through a lawsuit. NHTSA, however, hasn't yet formally responded to Chrysler's statement.