Friday, December 26, 2014

Automakers play with by-country recalls

A different kind of safety regulator in every country.

AP story on safety discrepancies by country
"We are starting with a world that is uneven in the distribution of safety," says Adrian Lund, the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-funded group that crash tests U.S. cars....Despite decades of talk, at the United Nations and elsewhere, little progress has been made getting governments to harmonize safety standards.
In Europe and Japan, cars are rigorously tested before they go on sale. In the U.S., automakers self-certify and cars are tested only after they go on sale. In Mexico and India, cars don't have to meet any government safety standards at all.
Likewise, countries differ on how to treat a problem. The U.S. requires automakers to report a safety defect within five days of its discovery, even if the cause hasn't been determined. Other countries, like Colombia, want automakers to have a fix in place before they report a recall.
John Krafcik, the president of auto buying site and Hyundai's former U.S. chief, says there's also discrepancy in what's considered a safety defect.
The lack of a cohesive system contributes to huge disparities. In 2013, there were 714 vehicle recalls issued in the U.S., where 28 million cars, trucks and motorcycles were called back due to safety issues. That outpaced the rest of the world. In Europe, which has around the same number of cars on the road as the U.S., there were 110 recalls. In Japan there were 303. China had 130.

Questions: How do automakers exploit the imperfect communication among safety regulators in various countries to minimize the spread of recalls as if they were contagious?

And if they really care about the safety of their customers and the public, why don't they voluntarily recall unsafe vehicles even in countries without adequate safety regulation?