American automakers achieve a sharp decline in recalls


January 07, 2007|By McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON -- Automakers slashed the number of cars and trucks recalled in the United States in 2006 by 38 percent, as General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. made good on pledges to reduce safety-related defects in their vehicles.

A Detroit Free Press analysis of federal data suggests that automakers have become more adept at catching problems earlier in production, before they affect a large number of customers. But their systems are far from perfect: Government investigations sparked many of the largest recalls last year.

GM's recalls declined by 73 percent from a year earlier, while Ford's fell 71 percent. The Chrysler Group had the most recalls in the industry, with 2.3 million vehicles called back in 27 separate recall notices, triple the volume from 2005, when it recalled 765,777 vehicles in nine cases.

The analysis found that the U.S. auto industry overall recalled 10.6 million vehicles in 2006, a decrease of 6.5 million vehicles from a year earlier and a third of the total from 2004. The number of recalls issued by automakers fell to 143, from 163 in 2005.

While most major automakers had fewer recalls, a few saw their defects worsen, including Chrysler, Nissan Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG.

In previous years, industry recalls fluctuated wildly as automakers, safety regulators and owners grappled with problems that often affected millions of vehicles built over several years.

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