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Research Shows Recalls Affect More Vehicles Due to Parts Standardization

13 December 2000

Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association Research Shows Recalls Affect More Vehicles Due to Parts Standardization
    RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Dec. 12 While automotive
product recalls are not new -- although some recent high profile cases have
led to new legislation -- the recalled vehicle population has increased due to
standardization of automotive parts across different car models, according to
the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).
    "The percentage of vehicle recalls has increased from around 3% of
vehicles in 1990 to more than 9% in 1999," said Frank Hampshire, MEMA director
of research.  "In many cases, large numbers of vehicles are involved in a
single recall because carmakers use standardized parts on many vehicles sold
around the world."
    Carmakers use standard parts across a wide range of vehicle models to
simplify production and gain economies of scale, Hampshire noted.  The use of
parts across multiple platforms contributes to the rise in the number of
recalled vehicles when a defective part is found, even if fewer parts are
found to be defective.
    "In 1995, for example, nearly 9 million seatbelt units from one supplier
were recalled.  They were used in cars produced by 11 separate auto
manufacturers," Hampshire said.  Another case involving ignition modules used
in 29 different vehicle models produced by one carmaker from 1983 to 1995,
affected nearly 23 million vehicles.
    Specific recalls may involve even more vehicles in the future, Hampshire
predicted.  "The movement toward global vehicle platforms may create the
potential for larger recalls when a defective parts is discovered," he said.
Founded in 1904, MEMA exclusively represents and serves more than 700 North
American manufacturers of motor vehicle components, tools and equipment,
automotive chemical and related products used in the production, repair, and
maintenance of all classes of motor vehicles.  MEMA is headquartered in
Research Triangle Park, N.C., and has offices in Washington, D.C.; Yokohama,
Japan; Brussels, Belgium; Mexico City, Mexico; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.