With federal regulators holding the steering wheel, auto manufacturers
are on course to set a U.S. record this year forrecalling vehicles with defects that could cause
Toyota recently recalled about 1.8 million vehicles in the U.S. to repair
problems such as air bags that won't activate in wrecks. The recall
affects 6.4 million cars and trucks around the world. That comes on top
of General Motors' recall of 2.6 million small cars to repair faulty
ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths.
All told, the auto industry has recalled 9 million vehicles in the U.S.
so far this year, putting it on pace to pass a recall record of 30.8 million
vehicles 10 years ago, according to the
The Justice Department has criticized Toyota for hiding the problem involving
unintended acceleration in vehicles dating back to 2009. Toyota paid $1.2
billion as part of a settlement with the federal government. But if it
fails to meet all terms of the agreement, the feds could revive a wire
fraud charge against the company.
Meanwhile, GM faces allegations that it covered up defects in ignition
switches on small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt for more than 10 years.
GM CEO Mary Barra recently testified before a congressional committee
but said she didn't know why it took the company so long to recall vehicles.
The defective ignition switch can cut off while a car is moving, causing
the driver to lose control and crash.
NBC News has reported that the company in 2001 rejected a design for ignition switches
that would have avoided the defect. The company's decision was based
on cost, some advocates say.
The company, one of the most important in Michigan, now faces numerous
civil lawsuits from consumers and a number of government investigations
over the defective ignition switch.
Only when auto manufacturers take quick action to go public with parts
problems and efficiently handle recalls will they emerge from under the
shadow that is darkening the industry and endangering the motoring public.