Friday, May 30, 2014

Recalls Lead To Sales, Safety And Satisfaction

Automotive recalls seem to be "up the yin yang", which the urban dictionary translates to - going to the extreme - and lately the media is having a field day reporting almost each and every one. If you believe that any publicity is good publicity then the carmakers must receive satisfaction in publicizing their efforts to have perfect products. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that traffic fatalities are the number one killer of Americans under the age of 34 but not because of defective vehicles. NHTSA says there were about 33,000 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles in 2010 blamed on speeding, drunk driving, distractions, ignoring pedestrians and bicyclists and failure to wear seat belts.

The number of recalls is deep in the millions of vehicles - and, just in the month of May. GM alone has a total of 5,560,005 and Ford had 598,758 May vehicle recalls based on data at the NHTSA website. The recalls can be as serious as issues causing fire risks like gas tanks over-filling or switches overheating. Other needed possible life-threatening fixes include doors that may open while driving, fatigued or fractured cables including seat belts, missing bolts or welds, acceleration lag, air bag deployment failure or delay. And there's inoperative lights, wipers and child locks, corrosive parts, voltage fluctuations affecting lights, software glitches and the list goes on. 

Manufacturers voluntarily initiate many of these recalls to comply with laws and presumably for the safety of their customers. Cars have about 30,000 parts, including about 10,000 moving parts, made by hundreds of suppliers who strive for perfection by transitioning raw materials into strictly specified quality items but, by the sheer numbers, defects are inevitable. Then there's the complex assembly process. It's amazing when you think about it.

Recalls are good news for the consumers. They get their vehicle fixed free by the manufacturer which may result in customer satisfaction, a key loyalty metric in the auto business. It 's great news for dealers who get money from the manufacturers and unplanned showroom visits from potential buyers who are waiting for their recall repair. With the average age of a vehicle on the road at 11 years, many people are ripe to purchase a new one - a benefit to the dealer, manufacturer and everyone on the road assuming new vehicles are safer than older ones. Dealer salesmen like nothing more than pouncing on customers walking into the dealership, and recalls bring in the "Up" bus (an industry term for prospects).