With GM and Now Toyota Facing Problems, Could 2014 Set a New Record for Auto Recalls?

With GM and Now Toyota Facing Problems, Could 2014 Set a New Record for Auto Recalls?

You might have heard about Chevy’s struggles with faulty ignition switches on its Cobalt models. The story made some waves a few weeks ago with General Motors discovering that the problem was larger than officials had initially planned for, leading to a recall of over 6.3 million vehicles (including the Cobalt as well as some Pontiac and Saturn models). Now, Toyota recently announced a global recall of even more cars than GM — a whopping 6.4 million.

With all these stories swirling around, it’s easy to lose faith in the auto market entirely. But it also poses the question: Is 2014 poised to set a record for the most automotive vehicle recalls in history?

The answer could be yes, especially given some experts’ opinions that more recalls will soon follow based on problems with vehicular software glitches and modular manufacturing. That’s what Mashable is reporting anyway, but there’s good reason to believe it could be true.

For Toyota, the recall covers nearly 30 models, including the popular Yaris, Corolla and RAV4 vehicles as well as the Pontiac Vibe and Subaru Trezia, which Toyota manufactured for other automakers. The culprit? Faulty spiral cables that could endure damage when the steering wheel is turned, potentially leading to situations where airbags may not deploy. Other minor factors — a seat-locking spring, steering columns, windshield wipers and engine starters — played into the decision as well.

GM, on the other hand, was facing a much more serious issue with its Cobalt model regarding an oversight in the ignition which could lead some vehicles to shut off suddenly while the car was in motion. A handful of deaths have already been blamed on the defective switches, something that took GM nearly a decade to act on.

Toyota’s problems, while numerous, could have likely been remedied with what the company refers to as a Technical Service Bulletin, or a statement issued to drivers in order to encourage them to get their autos repaired. But because of GM’s gargantuan recall numbers, Toyota leaders played it safe and issued a full recall of its own instead. David Kiley, an analyst at New Roads Media, thinks it’s more beneficial (both financially and for public relations’ sake) for automakers to take proactive steps regarding vehicle problems.

“They have gone from a [point of view] of ‘How can we avoid a recall?’ to ‘Let’s just do a recall on this and fix it right, and fix it fast,” Kiley says.

The news can also be seen as a surprising shock for Toyota, whose signature Prius hybrid model is currently the most-sold car in California. It’s part of a larger migration of American drivers toward hybrid vehicles in general because of the better fuel economy they tend to feature. In 2012 alone, U.S. auto dealers sold more than 2 million hybrid vehicles, according to Statistic Brain. The Prius, it should be noted, was not one of the vehicles recalled.

Despite the current state of affairs for the world’s leading automakers, they’re still far away from the 30.8 million recall number set in 2004. For now, it might just be a case of only time will tell.

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