Automakers see recalls rise as complexity of new models grows

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- A surge in new car models, increasingly complex technology and heightened regulatory scrutiny has led to more automobile recalls, particularly over safety concerns, a new study found.

More than 10 million vehicles were recalled last year because of safety-related issues, the most since 2009, according to the study of automaker and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall data by the financial advisory firm Stout Risius Ross Inc.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. together are introducing 30 new or revamped models in North America this year. As the number increases, the chance for increased quality issues also rises, Neil Steinkamp, a managing director at Stout Risius Ross, said in an interview.

"The challenge is to do that without incurring significant exposure related to warranty recall costs," Steinkamp said Tuesday. "I think we're at a really fascinating point in the industry where the next year or two could be very, very interesting."

Automakers on average order recalls on 54 percent of their models in the vehicle's first year of production, according to the study.

Hyundai Motor Co. ranked highest with 67 percent affected by recalls in the first year; Toyota Motor Corp. was lowest at 42 percent, the study shows.

GM ignitions

The report comes as NHTSA investigates GM's recall of 1.6 million cars over a defective ignition switch linked to 13 deaths in crashes. U.S. regulators are investigating why it took the company years to recall eight affected models, including 2005-2007 versions of the Chevrolet Cobalt, after learning about problems related to the ignition switch.

GM said key rings that are too heavy or jarring can cause the ignition to slip out of the run position, causing the engine to shut off and a crash-sensing algorithm to misfire and deactivate the air bags.

For the warranty study, Stout Risius Ross said it used NHTSA's definition of safety-related vehicle components, which includes air bags, child seat parts, seat belts, brakes, steering, visibility, acceleration and wheels.

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.