Auto Industry Galvanized After Record Recall Year

by Bill Vlasic and Hilary Stout, The New York Times

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DETROIT — Spurred by a decade-old ignition-switch defect in millions of General Motors vehicles, the auto industry this year has issued more recalls involving old models — those made five or more years ago — than ever before, an analysis of federal recall records by The New York Times shows.

More than 60 million vehicles have been recalled in the United States, double the previous annual record in 2004. In all, there have been about 700 recall announcements — an average of two a day — affecting the equivalent of one in five vehicles on the road.

The eight largest automakers have each recalled more vehicles in the United States this year than they have on average since 1966, when data collection began, with G.M., Honda and Chrysler each setting corporate records, the review by The Times found.

While automakers are cleaning up years of defects that previously went undetected or ignored, driving has become statistically safer, partly because of added technology in newer vehicles. Yet the lapses of the past cover a wide range of parts used in multiple models, driving up the number of recalls.

The G.M. ignition switch defect, affecting various models between 2003 and 2011, has been linked to at least 42 deaths.

“What you’re seeing is the makeover of the entire industry,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior sales executive in the United States.

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