Why It Takes So Damn Long To Recall And Fix Defective Cars

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1st Gear: It Takes A Year


A big report from the WSJ this morning takes a crack at what's up with our recall system, why it takes so long to recall cars, and why it sometimes takes even longer to fix it. This includes the weird Jeep recall where nothing has been fixed at all.

The Wall Street Journal examined federal data on 279 vehicle recalls since 2000 that were spurred by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration probe. In more than a third of the cases, it took at least 12 months to investigate, recall and start fixing those vehicles, the data show. In about 10% of the cases, it took at least two years.

Uhhhh... so what's up?

NHTSA generally can't stop manufacturers from selling products while a recall order is being challenged. Mr. Friedman says the agency is seeking authority from lawmakers to levy bigger fines, halt sales and require the immediate recall of vehicles it considers an "imminent hazard." Proposed legislation hasn't gained traction in Congress.


So NHTSA has a big mouth but there's no teeth in it.

2nd Gear: Automakers Could Save $400 Million By Not Being Dicks To Suppliers


A study using data from the "Automotive OEM-Supplier Relations Study form Planning Perspectives, Inc." — a real page turner — finds that automakers could save up to $400 million if they were just 10% better at communicating with their suppliers.

"It doesn't matter what the relation is — with your boss, friend, girlfriend — if there's good communication, you can get through all kinds of problems," John W. Henke Jr., president and CEO of Birmingham-based Planning Perspectives, said in an interview. "OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are headed by people — heads of purchasing — who are absolutely convinced the best thing to do is have better supplier relations, and they're working their tails off to do that."


What I always said.

3rd Gear: Unless They Blow Up And Kill At Least 69 People


A tragedy in China as a plant that supplies parts to GM exploded, killing at least 69 workers and injuring scores more.


It's an absolute tragedy, but GM has to sell lots of cars in China so they're working on finding alternative suppliers right now:

Tier-1 component suppliers such as Dicastal are "required to source from Tier-2 suppliers who must meet both in-country environment and safety standards as well as quality standards," GM said.

The U.S. automaker noted that Saturday's accident did not cause any immediate impact on its production because it has "sufficient inventory" of the parts, without specifying what the components were.


4th Gear: Toyota Turns "Gas-Guzzling" Dollars Into Green Research


I'm on the fence about whether or not I actually agree that Toyota is secretly a "gas-guzzling" company, which is sort of the premise of this Reuters piece about it acting not as green as it wishes to be...


On the one hand, Toyota does indeed make shit tons of money on Tundras and Highlanders and shit like that, which burn through gasoline and do little for the environment while still promoting the Prius. On the other hand, they still make the Prius and the Highlander isn't exactly the most gas-guzzling SUV.

Whatever your view, there's still the recognizable trend back towards "light trucks" and away from hybrids:

While Toyota reaps hefty profits from U.S. light trucks, its sales of the Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid car, slumped 11 percent in the United States in the first half of the year.

Unlike Toyota's U.S. light truck line-up, the flagship Prius has not seen a model change in five years. But its fortunes are set for a boost as Toyota readies a fourth generation of the hybrid to hit showrooms as early as next year.


Just wait for fuel prices to go back up again.

5th Gear: Daimler Gives Into Chinese Pressure To Cut Part/Service Prices



Daimler has joined Volkswagen AG's Audi brand in lowering prices on spare parts and the cost of after-sales services as China steps up scrutiny of the business practices of foreign companies. Chinese regulators last month opened an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft Corp. and state media accused Apple Inc. of using its iPhone to steal state secrets.


That old AMG is looking better now if you live in China, huh?

Reverse: I Wanna Go Fast

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," an irreverent comedy based in the outlandish (fictionalized) world of American stock car racing, premieres in movie theaters around the United States on this day in 2006.


Neutral: Is The Recall System Broken?

Or do regulators already have too much teeth?

Photo Credit: AP Images

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