Automotive giants Honda, Nissan and Toyota have recalled 3.4 million vehicles as part of a global recall after a fault was discovered with their front passenger-side airbags.
According to five separate incidents – two in the US and three in Japan – faulty airbags, manufactured by leading Japanese airbag and parts supplier Takata, had either failed to inflate or over-inflated when a crash occurred.
The three automobile manufacturers were quick to reassure drivers that they weren’t at risk, and according to the statements issued by these firms, the airbag will not inflate accidentally but only in the event of an accident.
Share prices of Honda, Nissan and Toyota have remained unaffected because of this incident, however Takata’s shares have taken a hit according to Bloomberg, falling down 11%.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first time that automobile manufacturers have issued a mass-recall of vehicles. Here are some of the biggest (and the most interesting) automotive vehicle recalls in history:
1.5 million Ford Pintos recalled in 1978
Ford Pinto was Ford’s answer to the competition being given by compact Japanese and European sedans. Ford wanted to introduce cheap, small sedans to rival it’s competitors, and budget limits during production resulted in design flaws (as well as an extremely unattractive-looking car!). In 1977, allegations were made that a flaw in the design of the Ford Pinto’s gas tank caused its fuel tank filler neck to break off, as well as the fuel tank to be punctured in a rear-end collision – making it susceptible to explosion and fire even in the event of just a minor collision. This design fault was attributed to 27 different deaths. Soon after, in 1978, 1.5 million Ford Pinto vehicles were recalled, making it one of the biggest recalls in recent history. It also meant that almost half of the 3.17 million Pintos produced during it’s life of 9 years had to be recalled!
14 million Ford vehicles recalled in 2009
Ford’s made quite the reputation when it comes to vehicle recalls, hasn’t it! Unsurprisingly, the credit for one of the biggest vehicle recalls in history – and this one’s pretty recent too – goes to Ford as well. In 2009, a defect in the cruise-control switch installed in a large array of Ford vehicles, such as Explorer and the F-150 to name a few, was reported to suffer from spontaneous combustion and hence was an obvious fire hazard. The cruise control systems installed in these vehicles were prone to overheating and burning – even when the cars were not running. And in certain models, the cruise-control meltdown also affected the anti-lock braking system.
Almost 9 million Toyota vehicles recalled between 2009-2011
A large number of Toyota vehicles all over the world suffered from what was referred to as ‘unintended acceleration’. The problem was attributed to two separate problems: a misplaced or incorrect floor mat that could jam the accelerator pedal, and sticky accelerator-pedal mechanism – both of which would cause the cars to accelerate by itself. Two separate vehicle recalls were hence issued, and as a consequence, production of many of Toyota’s popular vehicles, including the Camry and Corolla were suspended. The problem caused 30 deaths, and also resulted in lawsuits for the automobile giant, with many accusing Toyota of continuing to sell their cars despite knowing they had defects them. Toyota of course vehemently denied this, but it ended up costing the company millions of dollars in lawsuits, recalls, falling share prices and decrease in sales.
3.7 million Honda vehicles recalled in 1995
Talk about an overprotective car! In the early 90s, a problem with the seat-belt buckle caused Honda to recall as many as 3.7 million vehicles. As a result, the seat-belt buckle would jam and Honda owners were unable to actually take off their seat-belts because the release button would crack and become unusable. According to a statement issued by NHTSA , ‘the problem worsens with time and exposure, creating a greater risk of buckle failures as time goes by.’ Interestingly, the faulty buckles were manufactured by none other than Takata. While the issue behind this recall wasn’t nearly as dangerous as some of the other recalls, it was a big inconvenience when Honda owners got home from a tough day at work and just wanted to relax!
6.5 million Firestone tyres recalled in 2001
As one of the most dangerous product defects of all time, Firestone recalled as many as 6.5 millions tyres installed in Ford Explorer vehicles. Explorer of course, was one of the most popular Ford vehicles in the 90s, the company’s crown jewel and a commercial success that made the company millions of dollars. The Firestone tyres installed in these vehicles was notorious for tread separation at high speeds, and coupled with design changes in the second-generation Explorer – higher ground-clearance, more weight, and a higher center-of-gravity – this resulted in the tire blowing out after the tread peeled off, causing vehicles to roll over at high speeds. The result: 175 deaths, and as many as 700 injuries! Ford Explorer sales took a big hit too, and Firestone soon called off it’s 100-year-old partnership with Ford.