2014 Holds US Auto Recall Record with 40 Million Cars

Jul 01, 2014 02:24 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Just a little more than halfway through the year, 2014 holds the record for most cars recalled in the U.S. auto industry with nearly 40 million recalled vehicles, TIME reported. 2004 previously had the most cars recalled in one year with more than 30 million.

General Motors, whose troubles began with a 2.6 million-vehicle recall earlier this year, accounts for almost three-fourths of 2014 recalls so far, standing at around 28.5 million vehicles recalled worldwide. The American automaker's latest set of recalls involved more than 8.45 million vehicles in North America.

Faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles as well as Chrysler models could be indicative of deeper problems in the U.S. auto industry, according to an Associated Press report. GM recalls for problematic switches that can turn off the engine while the car is moving have affected 17.1 million vehicles from model years that stretch back to 1997.

"I think the ignition switch thing is fairly specific to GM, but it will be interesting to see. Were other companies letting their standards fall?" said Karl Brauer, a senior industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book, as quoted by the AP.

GM's latest recall was announced on Monday, the same day that Chrysler issued a recall for 700,000 vehicles in North America. The Chrysler models were reported to have the same issue as many GM vehicles: ignition switches that can move from the "run" to "accessory" position while being driven. The shift cut off the engine while simultaneously disabling the airbags, a condition related to 54 crashes and 13 deaths in GM vehicles.

The GM ignition switch disaster, which stems from problems that came to light more than a decade ago, seems to have had a sobering effect on the company and the auto industry as a whole. Carmakers have been issuing recent recalls for potential problems in the hopes of fixing the vehicles before production flaws result in crashes or tragedies like the GM fatalities.

As for GM, the Detroit, Mich.-based automaker has vowed to build a company culture that focuses on safety, with CEO Mary Barra shaking up management and reorganizing the engineering department.

"I think there's a new standard for what GM considers a potential safety defect, and Mary Barra has no tolerance or patience for potential safety defects that are unresolved," Brauer said.

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