Washington Automakers recalled nearly 22 million vehicles last year, the most since 2004.
The number of vehicles rose by more than 5.5 million over the 16.4 million vehicles that were called back in 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a report released Monday.
In total, automakers issued 632 recall campaigns, almost 10 percent more than the 581 in 2012; the number of campaigns was the highest since 2010.
Toyota Motor Corp. topped the list for the fourth year out of the last five, calling back 5.3 million vehicles in 15 campaigns. The 2013 total was about the same as in 2012.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the automaker which recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide in connection with sudden acceleration claims and agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle claims said the automaker would like to recall no vehicles, but the automaker is committed to moving quickly.
If we see a problem we want to jump on it as quickly as possible, Hanson said. That number (of recalls) reflects our determination that if we find a problem we want to address it right away.
Chrysler Group LLC, which sparred with NHTSA over a request to recall 2.7 million Jeep SUVs for fire risks, rose to second, recalling 4.7 million vehicles in 36 separate recall campaigns. The Auburn Hills unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had the highest number of recall campaigns. It agreed to recall 1.6 milllion Jeep SUVs to add trailer hitches, but didnt go as far as NHTSA had initially sought.
Honda Motor Co. which was second in 2012 and led all automakers in 2011 was third in 2013 with 2.8 million vehicles recalled in 15 campaigns.
Hyundai finished fourth with nine recalls covering 2.2 million vehicles. Ford Motor Co. was fifth with 16 recalls covering 1.2 million vehicles; that was down from 24 campaigns and 1.4 million vehicles recalled in 2012.
General Motors Co. had 23 recall campaigns second-highest among major automakers. But it recalled just 760,000 vehicles, a sign the Detroit automaker is spotting defects earlier. It ranked ninth for most recalls, even though its the largest automaker in the United States.
Kia Motors had three recalls covering 1.1 million vehicles, while Nissan Motor Co. had 17 recalls covering 960,000 vehicles. BMW North America had 14 recalls covering 930,000 vehicles.
The number of vehicles recalled that were influenced by NHTSA investigations fell sharply. Automakers are taking it upon themselves to recall vehicles faster. NHTSA said it influenced 7 million vehicle recalls in 2013, compared with 9.4 million in 2012. But NHTSA has shown a greater willing to fine automakers for not recalling vehicles in a timely fashion something that may be also pushing automakers to recall vehicles faster.
In June, Ford paid NHTSA a $17.35 million fine after the agency said the automaker did not notify customers of a defect in a timely manner after it recalled 423,000 2001-04 Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes in July 2012, the maximum fine under current law. Ford did not admit any wrongdoing.
The nearly 22 million recalls for the year are the highest since 2004, when automakers called back a record 30.8 million vehicles in 600 campaigns.
One of the biggest recalls was over air bags that could catch fire or send metal fragments flying. The recall of 3.4 million vehicles worldwide by six automakers, including more than 1 million in the U.S., was caused by a single faulty part in air bags built a decade ago. Its the latest example of what can happen when common parts are shared among automakers.