The following story has been revised to reflect the latest recalls announced New Year’s Eve by two Detroit automakers.
Driven by a series of massive safety-related actions at Toyota, the number of vehicles recalled in the U.S., this past year will have reached near-record levels.
But Toyota wasn’t alone, as two of Detroit’s Big Three demonstrated, collectively announcing the recall of another 165,000 vehicles during the final hours of 2011.
Still, were it not for the Japanese maker’s multiple problems, the number of recalls in 2010 would have come in at less than half of the previous record, the 30.8 million vehicles involved in safety-related recalls back in 2004. As it stands, an analysis by the Associated Press shows that about 20 million cars, trucks and crossover will have been impacted in 2010 the highest figure since the industry set that record, six years ago.
It’s not clear whether that means there has been a sudden and unexpected setback in the effort to improve automotive quality, reliability and safety. Particularly in the light of Toyota’s problems, government regulators have ramped up their own efforts – partly because internal Toyota documents suggested the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may have become too cozy with the auto industry.