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No Surprise: 2010 Recalls Highest In Years

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On: Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 10:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

No Surprise: 2010 Recalls Highest In Years

In a year of major headlines, Congressional hearings, and media outrage, anyone who watches the news once in a while could have guessed: U.S. automobile recalls for 2010 reached their highest numbers since 2004. In fact, the only thing surprising there is that they weren't at an all-time high, because I'll certainly remember 2010 (and late-2009) as the year of the recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced this week that the infamous (and not all that infamous) recalls of 2010 affected more than 20 million vehicles.

According to the NHTSA, automakers recalled 20.3 million vehicles in a total of 648 individual recalls. The former number puts 2010 as the third most busy recall year in history, behind 2004's 30.8 million vehicles and 2000's 24.6 million, while the latter number is the second highest in history, behind 2008's 685 recall incidents.

Of no surprise to anyone, Toyota led the way, with its highly publicized string of recalls (19 total) that affected 7.1 million cars.

Though it didn't earn the news coverage of Toyota, GM also recalled a substantial number of vehicles: 4 million in 21 separate recall campaigns.

In fact, all of the six best-selling brands in the U.S. experienced recall increases during 2010, except for Ford. Ford saw its recall count decline from 4.5 million in 2009 to 581,000 in 2010.

In addition to its large recall total, Toyota endured a series of investigations and fines revolving around its recall actions. The company was fined a total of $48.8 million for its actions in three separate recall incidents. In April, Toyota agreed to pay $16.4 million for delaying NHTSA notification of its pedal defect, and just last month, Toyota was hit with another $32.4 million in fines for failure to comply with NHTSA notification rules for two separate recalls, one involving acceleration issues and one involving steering problems.

If you're curious how 2004 beat out 2010 (I didn't follow the industry as closely then, but don't recall all the recall publicity at the time), that year saw large recalls by all of the Detroit Big 3. GM recalled 10.8 million vehicles; Chrysler recalled 5.8 million and Ford recalled 5 million—a total that exceeds the 2010 recall total before even considering recalls by foreign brands.


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