Recalls for passenger vehicles in the US fell to their lowest levels since 2013 last year, declining to 30.7 million vehicles from a record 53 million in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of recall campaigns dropped from 924 in 2016 to 813 last year.
On the surface, this appears to be good news; fewer vehicle recalls could point to rising quality standards within the automotive industry, perhaps indicating that the NHTSA’s no-nonsense approach under the Obama administration has had a positive impact. Yet a decline in recalls seems natural given that the massive, industry-wide recall effort pertaining to Takata’s airbag inflators is winding down, while the effort involving General Motors’ faulty ignition switches was settled previously.
There are also fears that 2017’s lower recall figures could stem from more lax enforcement under the current administration. The agency has been without a permanent head for more than 13 months, as Reuters reports, and since Donald Trump was sworn in as president, it’s administered no new vehicle safety fines.
Earlier in the month, news broke that Ford Motor Company partnered with Mazda and Fiat Chrysler in order to more effectively reach customers in and around Houston, Texas affected by faulty Takata airbag inflators. As of last November, Texas was ranked second in the country for unrepaired vehicles with the problematic Takata inflators.