General Motors’ British brand Vauxhall showed a “reckless disregard for safety” in how it handled recalling examples of its Zafira multi-purpose vehicle prone to catching fire, members of parliament concluded in a report.
AutoExpress reports that British MPs slammed Vauxhall for being too “sluggish” to recall affected vehicles, and too quick to point the blame at repairs made at independent garages rather than investigating further. “We can only conclude commercial considerations and the need to avoid reputational damage were put ahead of safety; this is unacceptable and morally reprehensible,” reads one line of the report.
In response, Vauxhall said that there were “lessons to be learned” from the incident, in which more than 230,000 Vauxhall Zafira B (years 2005 to 2014) examples were sold with faults that put the vehicles at risk of sudden fire. The company states that it has already changed some of its own procedures in response to the issue, and that 183,172 Zafira B examples had already been fixed under the recall.
“We apologise to anyone who has experienced anguish or distress as a result of this incident. Nothing is more important to us than safety,” said Vauxhall in a statement. “We welcome the backing for our call for greater collaboration between the automotive industry and insurers to improve the detection of faults.”
AutoExpress, while acknowledging that Vauxhall “should be hanging its head in shame” over the incident, suggested that it nonetheless highlighted that the UK’s recall system is in need of an overhaul. While Vauhall underwent Transport Select Committee hearings over the Zafira fire issue, for instance, the company called upon the government to establish a vehicle fire database in order to help manufacturers gain access to such data. Since vehicle fires are most often investigated by insurers, manufacturers are currently given little information.
AutoExpress also shared Vauxhall’s view that vehicles with outstanding recall notices should not pass Ministry of Transport (MoT) roadworthiness tests – an opinion echoed in the parliament’s report.