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NHTSA: 2015 Auto Recalls May Surpass Last Year’s Record

The new director of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told reporters that 2015 may set new records for auto recalls. Mark Rosekind, the newly-appointed director of the NHTSA, stated that his office will make tracking auto recalls the agency’s highest priority. The previous record for auto recalls was set last year, with over 60 million vehicles recalled. That record nearly doubled the previous mark set in 2004 of 30.8 million recalled vehicles.

Rosekind: Agency Must Improve Handling of Auto Recalls

Mr. Rosekind, a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, started in his new position last month. He addressed that the agency needs to change its approach to auto recalls in light of the massive problems involving General Motors ignition switches and Takata airbags. As an appointee by President Barack Obama, Mr. Rosekind acknowledged that he has “a couple years, max” to turn the agency around before the president’s term expires in January 2017.

2015 Will “See An Increase” In Auto Recalls

The increase in public attention to auto recall issues last year, ranging from newspaper headlines to Congressional hearings, has convinced Mr. Rosekind that 2015 will set new records for vehicles affected by recall notices. He also pointed out the increase in the number of customer complaints the agency received, from 45,000 in 2013 to 75,000 in 2014. “I don’t think there’s any question that the hearings, and news reports, brought visibility to these issues,” he told reporters in Washington. He also speculated that the agency will “probably see an increase in recalls” in the next twelve months.

GM Ignition Switch Flaw Spurs Massive Auto Recalls

While many manufacturers issued auto recalls for numerous reasons last year, one of the major issues stemmed from faulty GM ignition switches. The GM ignition switch recall was related to a defect which caused the switch to move from the “ON” to the “ACC” position when bumped or jostled. The switch would cut power to the vehicle, including to the power steering, power brakes and airbag sensors. At least 42 deaths have been tied to the ignition switch defect. GM ordered the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles and set aside $400 million for victims of accidents related to the defect.

Takata Fights Nationwide Auto Recall

The other major auto recall of the year came from Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata. Laboratory tests showed that a chemical used in the airbag inflation system could explode in humid conditions. At least five people have died when metal shrapnel from the airbag assembly flew into drivers and front-seat passengers. Many of the manufacturer’s customers, including Honda, Ford, Chrysler and BMW, have issued nationwide auto recalls on their vehicles with Takata airbags. However, when pressed by federal officials to expand its regional recall, Takata executives have thus far refused.

Sources: BloombergReuters

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