At least 10 million vehicles were recalled by Toyota back in 2009 and 2010 for the “unintended acceleration” issue and so far GM has made 67 separate recall actions with almost 30 million vehicles due back in service.
The level of media attention surrounding this two particular cases has been massive, even as the reputation suffered little damage in both cases (actually, Toyota was more trashed than the US automaker). That’s because in both cases a huge number of cars were involved, there are multiple injuries and fatalities linked to the recalls and the incidents occurrence pattern shows the NHTSA should have caught them earlier.
These similarities are important, because we may be heating towards another massive recall – this time spanning multiple automakers. Takata and its automotive clients have identified numerous models that have been fitted with defective airbags – in case of an accident when they deploy they could send shrapnel inside the cabin.
Building up to today’s Takata issues, no less than 14 million cars built by 11 automakers have been recalled in between 2000 and 2011 alone. And, besides the recalls issued by mostly Japanese carmakers last year and in 2014, the NHTSA has identified “regional field actions” – meaning local – voluntary changes – made to the affected parts. Both Takata, the automakers and the NHTSA claim these are not recalls and there’s no “safety defect.”
Yet, besides the affected areas – mostly high-humidity regions – there were also several incidents that involved deaths or serious injuries with Takata’s airbags that occurred in places such as Richmond, Virginia and Oklahoma in 2009 and in Los Angeles just three months ago. Also, the first injury involving the Takata defective airbag deployment was in 2004 in Alabama. All of them are not subject to NHTSA’s “field actions.”