2014 – the year of record recalls image

When the year started the biggest story seemed to be the appointment of Mary Barra as General Motors CEO, the first female chief executive of a global automaker. Instead, she’s now just a footnote tied to one of the two biggest auto safety crises ever.

Back in February, the No. 1 US automaker was finally coming clean and recalled 2.6 million cars equipped with defective ignition switches. They were at least a decade late and the ensuing scandal led to numerous other millions of vehicles being recalled by the company. And the faulty part has been unfortunately linked to more than 40 deaths.

The auto industry was just recovering from the GM shock that for sure kept a lot of strategists up many nights trying to figure out how to avoid the same mishaps at their company. So, Takata’s airbag debacle, which actually started back in 2008 but escalated to global proportions this year, took almost everyone by surprise. To date, the recalls have surpassed the 20 million mark and we’re still counting. That’s because the root cause has not been identified yet and what was previously a regional recall – humidity was believed to be a key factor – is now expanding to full recall campaigns.

These two main issues, corroborated with many others have led the US auto industry to have more than 60 million vehicles back into dealerships – and just for comparison’s sake we should remember that total new car sales this year are expected to be lower than 17 million units.