Recalls reach record with two months to spare image

We’re more than two months away from 2015 and automakers have already hit a massive threshold – the recall numbers have passed 56 million units – a pace that was last achieved back in 1999.

Here’s the breakdown – 2014 has been a tough year for carmakers and their corporate culture that in cases chooses to conceal defects. That’s for obvious reasons – keep up the public image and save money. But, faced with two huge crises – the GM ignition switch debacle and the Takata airbag problems – automakers this year have been intensely scrutinized by regulators. We could even understand that the sheer rise in complexity has been a factor in the historic tally – but the careful review of recall reasons shows that many of the campaigns involved mostly basic technology — ignition switches, alternators, hood latches.

The NHTSA says the last record was back in 1999, with 55.6 million vehicles and to just put in perspective the massive number, we can see the 56 million figure achieved so far is around three times larger than what American buyers should buy this year.

Under scrutiny itself for the late response to GM’s ignition switch problems, the NHTSA stepped up the game this year and many see this as a positive trend – evidence is now emerging that some of the brands just fix the problems that were kept under shade in the past. And, with all the hype surrounding the autonomous cars – which add even more complexity to the vehicles – it’s better to know the drivers are protected against failures caused by the cars themselves.