As the season of recalls continues, June 23, 2014 brought a large wave of recall announcements by seven different automobile manufacturers. With this latest set of recalls, the previous U.S. annual record for safety recalls has been exceeded. And there are still about five months left in the year.
The previous record for recalls in a year was set in 2004 when automakers recalled 30.8 million vehicles. As of June 2014, automakers have recalled 31.4 vehicles and that number is likely to continue to grow.
One of the chief problems is the economies of scale that have been used to drive down supply costs for the automobile companies. Japanese parts supplier Takata's defective airbag inflators and propellants have found in cars ranging from Hondas to Chryslers and Mazdas.
As such, the single defect found in one supplier has affected the fortunes and lives of car owners and car companies across the world. This cost-saving strategy, though economically rational, is likely to make large recalls the norm in the future.
The recalls are also an indication of the changing legal and consumer landscape. Consumers and their watchdogs expect that each vehicle on the road to have no-known flaws. To the extent that safety defects are identified, the car companies may be exercising prudence by preemptively recalling and fixing defects before they are fined by the NHTSA.