Did you know…
• U.S. Population in 2008: 304 million
• Total U.S. Vehicle Recalls in 2008: 8.6 million
• U.S. Population in 2009: 305 million
• Total U.S. Vehicle Recalls in 2009: 15.2 million
That means in 2008, a mere 3% of the U.S. population had to deal with a vehicle recall, while in 2009, that figure skyrocketed to 5%. While still not nearly as bad as the 2004 figures totaling over 30 million units recalled (which in today’s figures would represent 10% of the population) 2009 still presents some staggering figures for the U.S. driving public to consider.
Toyota led the pack for recalls in 2009 with over 4.8 million units recalled across both the Toyota and Lexus brand names. And 2010 already puts Toyota as a front-runner so far with its Prius recall of over 437,000 units and the subsequent recall of over 4.5 million units for various problems. A Tacoma recall of 8,000 units was added to Toyota’s bill on February 15 as well. But wait – is the hype more bark than bite?
While 5 million units for the Japanese automaker may seem like a sea of cars, there’s another car manufacturer that trumps Toyota in total recalls over time:
Since the NHTSA started keeping records, Ford Motors has recalled over 20 million vehicles, the highest recall year being 1996 with over 7.6 million units. Thus, while the current recall hype might be news to the US consumer who favors Japanese models over their American counterpart, the news of Toyota’s 5 million units recalled could be overshadowed by Ford’s recall history.
It began back in 1972 when Ford issued a recall for over 4 million cars with faulty seatbelt buckles. With indications that the buckles could release in a crash situation, the auto manufacturer recalled cars from its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands – every single one of them made during models years 1970-71.
The next major car recall from Ford was the 1996 Ford Explorer recall. The malfunction in question gave it the less-than-favorable moniker “Ford Exploder” as the ignition switches were found to be defective and could catch fire, overheat or otherwise malfunction. Nearly 8 million cars were affected and Ford recalled nearly all its cars manufactured between 1988 and 1993.
2005 wasn’t such a great year for Ford in the recall department, either. While we’re at it, we should mention 2009 as well. Both years resulted in a recall of 4.5 million units each for Ford, and were directly related to cruise control malfunctions. Had the NHTSA combined these incidents into a single report, it would have been the largest recall of all time with an estimated 14 million Ford / Mercury vehicles affected.
While the Toyota news as of late has consumers riled, perhaps it is a good sign for what lies ahead. More stringent manufacturing processes from the already stringent Japanese automakers may be on the horizon. It will be interesting to watch shareholder reactions to both Ford and Toyota alike as the auto recall situation plays itself out through the remainder of 2010.