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Increase vehicle recall notices

These days, vehicles are equipped with the latest technology that increase vehicle recalls, all of which aim to heighten user experience and convenience. Most of the time, software applications have replaced traditional controls typically represented by buttons and other triggers. In some new vehicles alone, the traditional music player has been replaced by an interactive screen that allows users to play music, show a GPS-activated map, or even view a closed-circuit television (CCTV)-generated view of the vehicle’s backside when reversing for parking or re-positioning. Nonetheless, the extent to which those technologies can work is also limited by certain defects, some of which may be the subject of recalls. In fact, insinuations that technological changes and incidence of vehicle recalls are positively correlated have emerged as of late, indicating that such a concern presents a valid observation.  This high end technology that is placed in a motor vehicle that has to endure weather conditions of all types, from heavy rain, heat, snow and ice, when you think about the level of technology that is now available for you in your car its no wonder there is increase vehicle recalls.

Billions of code, numerous concerns

Financial and legal advisory firm Stout Risius Ross (SRR) exclaimed that the greater incidence to increase vehicle recalls lies on the fact that a contemporary luxury vehicle, for instance, already constitutes more than a billion lines of software code. Since technological innovations have become more prevalent with new vehicle releases, industry warranty and compliance concerns have emerged in multitudes as well. For comparison’s sake, the Space Shuttle only has one million lines of software code, while a typical fighter jet only has two million.

Technology integration is pointed as the key reason behind the billions of software code that come in every new vehicle model loaded with the latest technological innovations. Uniting as many functions of a vehicle as possible within a consolidated system powered by software codes, software-powered electronics in vehicles have a double-edged potential – it can make controls and procedures in vehicles more efficient and convenient for users, but it can also prove to be troublesome once it experiences glitches or any other kind of damage – in which case recalls may prove necessary. Worse, malfunctioning software in vehicles may threaten the safety of drivers and passengers – a possibility that has raised alarms on new vehicle technologies.

Consumers, in particular, have particularly high expectations as long as vehicle electronics are concerned. While it is true that smartphones, for instance, may not last in the possession of consumers within two years due to consumer preference on purchasing new ones as upgrades, the same cannot be said of vehicles. As consumers rely much on the utility of their vehicles, which they expect would last for at least a decade or more with proper care, the same expectation is extended to vehicle electronics – a matter that provides a kind of pressure unique to vehicle manufacturers.

SRR, in its analysis, presented vehicle recalls that involve software-powered safety technology, emphasizing on a particular 2015 case where a faulty automatic braking system cost the life of one person and injured 21 people. Another 2015 case involved a flawed electronic stability control, which resulted to one death and seven injuries. A case highlighting a defect on surrounding forward-collision-avoidance technology, also from last year, is another addition to the spate of vehicle software defects that triggered large-scale recalls.

Such small number of incidents provided enough reason for vehicle manufacturers to summon a record-breaking 51 million vehicles for recalls. Nonetheless, vehicle manufacturers are already looking into improving their repair and liability management procedures for vehicle recalls, especially for autonomous-vehicle systems, all of which involve new technologies that encompass the participation of suppliers inexperienced in the realm of automotive technology by way of their specializations on software and electronics.

The Detroit-Silicon Valley conundrum

The breadth of software and electronic suppliers new to the ins and outs of the automotive industry emerges as a real issue when vehicle recalls are concerned, given the disjoint between software technology and automotive technology that focuses on the benefits and perils of autonomous-vehicle systems. Given the absence of repair and liability management procedures, suppliers and vehicle manufacturers continue to point fingers at one another in times of incidents and eventual increase vehicle recalls. New electronics can always increase vehicle recalls if not tested properly.

As autonomous-vehicle systems enter into mainstream usage, some vehicle manufacturers – the likes of General Motors (GM) and Volvo for instance, have assumed full liability over all problems in their vehicles related to software and electronics, as a way of manifesting their desire to develop autonomous-vehicle systems. However, one must understand that once said honeymoon period is over, software and electronics suppliers will have to enter the fray of assuming liability for any defects on autonomous-vehicle systems, as reflected by the findings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pointing to some suppliers as the root causes of certain vehicle recalls.

According to SRR, software and electronics suppliers were implicated in 60% of vehicle recalls in the United States (US) between 2010 and 2016, compared to just 40% in 2006-2010. Assuming that such a trend continues, it would be unsustainable for vehicle manufacturers to assume full responsibility over vehicle recalls. The fact that technological innovations involving software and electronic integration are only set to become more prevalent over time means that suppliers have to assume involvement in repair and liability management.

Even so, technological innovations can also prove to be extremely helpful for vehicle manufacturers in the course of their honeymoon period on assuming liability for autonomous-vehicle system recalls. Improvements in recall compliance rates are bound to improve with constantly-updated connectivity mechanisms that provide real-time data for component performance, making it easier for vehicle manufacturers to identify problems and narrow down the amount of vehicles for recall.

Future prospects for improving vehicle recalls compliance

SRR, in concluding its analysis, raised some key updates on recall compliance. As stated, vehicle manufacturers must fashion their recall notices properly in order to encourage vehicle owners to bring their recall-designated vehicles for inspection and repairs; being apologetic for the inconvenience caused should be the top consideration. Moreover, vehicle manufacturers should communicate recalls effectively; of the 80% recall compliance rates in the US in 2015, compliance for cars but improve, but the reverse is true for pickups, crossover vehicles, and minivans. Furthermore, new ways to urge compliance among vehicle owners are underway, but specifics on those would have to be threshed out. This is all in effort to not increase vehicle recalls.