Automakers study efforts to boost recall completions
Washington — One third of vehicle owners who received a recall notice say they are extremely or very concerned and 1 in 20 owners won’t get repairs, a new survey released Wednesday shows.
Two major auto trade associations unveiled a new survey that looks at why about a quarter of all vehicle recalls are never completed.
The research comes as automakers recalled a record 63.95 million vehicles in 2014 in 803 campaigns. In the first eight months of 2015, automakers recalled more than 32.4 million vehicles vehicles — a figure that topped the prior record of 30.8 million vehicles recalled in all of 2004.
Several automakers are on pace for a record-setting number of recalls. And the total number of campaigns this year could come close to last year.
A newly emboldened National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has demanded recalls in more than a dozen instances — including Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. callbacks. NHTSA Chief Mark Rosekind caught the industry’s attention when he suggested in January that automakers could recall more vehicles in 2015 than in 2014.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers commissioned Public Opinion Strategies to conduct a survey of 1,500 vehicle owners, including those who reported receiving recall notices within the last two years, to explore reasons for consumer behavior related to the recalls. The agencies briefed NHTSA on the results Wednesday.
The findings show most owners take recalls seriously — with 70 percent of owners saying they would not feel safe ignoring a low-risk recall. Just over one-third of owners say they have not gotten a recall completed.
The auto groups poll asked owners about a series of ideas to see if consumers would agree to get vehicles fixed — including a recall notification on their vehicle from the EZ Pass system when driving through a toll booth — and more than half had said that would be effective.
A majority of those polled endorsed tying recalls to vehicle registration or when registering used cars.
General Motors Co. offered $25 gift cars last year to try to prod owners of vehicles recalled for ignition switch defects to get their vehicles repaired.
Rosekind has urged automakers, dealers and others to try to find ways to boost recall completion rates. The survey found 5 percent of respondents will not get recalls completed.
The polling firm tested three different types of vehicle recalls, ranging from minor to moderate to more serious recalls, and examined how consumers said they would respond to recalls at each level and how the recall impacts their perceptions about the safety of their vehicles.
“Nationwide, 93 percent of those who had heard about a safety recall on their vehicle learned about it from the automaker and new vehicle dealer communications,” said Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Auto Alliance. “Many consumers said they responded to the recall notice because they would rather be ‘safe than sorry.’ ”
“We want everyone who gets a recall notice to take their vehicle to be repaired,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO, Global Automakers. “Since little public opinion research has been done in this area, for the first time we are learning about what motivates people to respond to safety recalls.”