Have you sat in a modern car lately? If you have you have probably wondered whether you are in something resembling Mission Control at NASA, the space agency? At night, the glow of all the LEDs can create quite a mesmerizing lighting effect, suggesting to anyone with a vivid imagination that take-off, and a sense of weightlessness, could well be imminent.
Is There a Drawback to All This Gadgetry?
Yes, recalls. And they are on the rise. Certain modern cars are notorious for what was traditionally termed “electrical faults.” The newest generation of modern cars, however, now suffer from “software errors” and they have already been impacting millions of cars, often all at once.
Got Any Proof?
Yes, and it is staggering. 53 million modern cars in the USA of all makes and models were recalled last year. And that is in a country with roughly 350 million people. In the past three years, 20% of all serviceable cars in the USA were recalled. In 1996, the several recalls were just over 19 million, with the population then hovering around 275 million.
But What About the UK?
Just last week, BMW announced that a fire-risk caused by the electrical systems that run its software necessitated the recall of almost 300,000 vehicles in the UK. Just imagine the pressure on BMW dealerships’ car servicing centres cope when suddenly flooded with this unexpected influx of work. In total, just in the UK, more than 3 million cars are now under recall from the manufacturers.
Why is it Happening?
Electrical complexity is one cause, but so is cost-cutting. This means that car manufacturers are simply after the business model used by software development companies. They build the product as best they can and, not hire a bunch of expensive testers and quality managers, just launch it and let the market, the customers, help iron out the bugs.
Will it Continue?
As soon as a product comes out, rather than make sure it will remain problem-free over its lifetime, manufacturers are more concerned with research and development on the “next big thing.” But when steering wheels start falling off cars, as recently happened to 1.4 million Fords in the USA, you have to wonder.
Why Take the Risk?
Manufacturers say that all advancements are in the interest of safety and efficiency. But do we really need the hassle it brings? A car recall often depends on how serious it is and how often it has happened. Manufacturers use complex algorithms to conduct a risk analysis in each case to decide whether the cost of recalling and fixing the vehicles is worth it given any safety and PR concerns.
Libby has been working for BookMyGarage writing articles, creating newsletters and handling the social media platforms. She works closely with ex-mechanics and subject matter experts to provide weekly blogs: essential advice on how to care for your car, need-to-know news and developments in the motoring world and helpful tips on how to cut the costs of running and maintaining your car.