Automakers Recall Most Vehicles Since 2004

IHS Global Insight

February 5, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that automakers recalled 22 million vehicles in 2013, some 5.5 million more than in 2012, according to several sources. The recalls were a result of 632 campaigns, compared to 531 last year. While the report indicated which automakers recalled the most vehicles, the agency cautioned against reading too much into the results.

"These tallies are not used to evaluate manufacturers or to evaluate which recalls the agency may need to investigate or monitor. There are a host of reasons why a manufacturer could have more or fewer recalls in any given year," Automotive News cites the report as saying.

Of the 632 campaigns, the largest 18 manufacturers issued 184 recalls covering 19.6 million vehicles. In 2012, those same companies issued 153 recalls for 15.6 million vehicles. Toyota recalled more than 11 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles worldwide, followed by Chrysler Group with 4.7 million vehicles (up from 1.3 million in 2012). Honda recalled 2.8 million vehicles, Hyundai-Kia 2.2 million, and Ford Motor 1.2 million. General Motors recalled 757,677 vehicles, second-most after Chrysler Group, with 23 recall campaigns. The Detroit News also pointed out that one of the biggest recalls was over airbags, and impacted 3.4 million vehicles from six automakers over a single faulty part in airbags built 10 years ago.

The 2013 total recall number slots behind the record set in 2004 with 30.8 million vehicles in 600 campaigns.

Automakers have become more aggressive in resolving recalls while the NHTSA seems to have become more aggressive in asking for them. It is also true that as components and architecture-sharing increase across the industry, the potential impact of a recall can be significantly larger. It does not necessarily indicate cars are decreasing in quality or becoming less safe.

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