On no­tice: Ve­hi­cle re­calls

Some car brands are more open than oth­ers; some own­ers are in the dark

Herald Sun - Motoring - - COMMENT - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowling@news.com.au

AUS­TRALIA is on track to post a record num­ber of ve­hi­cle re­calls this year. It has al­ready eclipsed a 10-year high.

In 2004, about 776,000 cars were re­called — so far this year, the fig­ure is more than 800,000 and looks cer­tain to sur­pass the 855,000 in 2001.

So are cars be­com­ing less re­li­able or are man­u­fac­tur­ers more con­cerned about be­ing sued for neg­li­gence, and so be­ing more open about prob­lems with their ve­hi­cles?

The an­swer to both ques­tions is yes.

As car com­pa­nies drive down costs, they out­source more parts that can be bought more cheaply due to global economies of scale.

For ex­am­ple Ja­panese company Takata makes airbags for most lead­ing car brands. But when some­thing goes wrong, it’s mon­u­men­tal.

There is cur­rently a global re­call of 16 mil­lion cars from nine brands — in­clud­ing about 100,000 in Aus­tralia — be­cause Takata airbags could in­flate with ex­ces­sive force and po­ten­tially spray shrap­nel at oc­cu­pants. So far, the fault has been linked to at least four deaths in the US.

Gen­eral Mo­tors, mean­while, re­called 2.6 mil­lion cars in North Amer­ica be­cause of a faulty ignition switch that could turn off the en­gine and dis­able the airbags. So far the fault has been linked to at least 27 deaths in the US, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

US au­thor­i­ties found Gen­eral Mo­tors ex­ec­u­tives hid the fault for almost 10 years. Se­nior staff in­volved in the scan­dal have since been sacked.

Re­calls are in the spot­light in Aus­tralia be­cause Holden — pos­si­bly spurred by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the par­ent company’s han­dling of the ignition switch re­call — has been more open than it might

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