Quality Assurance, Reputational Damage, Product Recalls, Oh My! Keeping Ahead of Headaches in the Automotive Industry

Yet another news day, yet another automotive recall. Chances are, most people have been affected by the recent way of recalls within the automotive industry. Most times, these recalls are related to quality defects in the manufacturing process. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 300 automotive-related recalls were initiated in the U.S. by manufacturers in 2016, encompassing over 53 million vehicles. And, U.S.-based automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers paid nearly $12 billion USD to settle claims related to these recalls. While we’re not talking about pennies here, the fact of the matter is this money does not compare to the damage done to a company’s reputation for quality.1

This issue can very recently be seen in a March 2019 update, where GM recalled 1,500 Cadillacs and Chevrolets in Canada due to power steering issues.2 In an effort to address this problem, more and more OEMs are proactively engaging in quality management initiatives designed to identify and resolve potential problems during the design and manufacturing process. At the same time, even the most knowledgeable, in-house engineering teams can benefit from the experience and methodologies that outside experts can provide, as well as access to the advanced testing technologies that they offer.

In a recent interview with Steve Miaskowski, Business Line Manager of TÜV SÜD’s OnSite Testing services, he discusses the quality challenges facing automotive OEMs today and the ways that TÜV SÜD partners with key players in the automotive industry to improve quality and prevent costly product recalls.

1 Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as summarized in “The auto industry’s growing recall problem—and how to fix it,” a report prepared by AlixParnters, January 2018. Available at https://emarketing.alixpartners.com/rs/emsimages/2018/pubs/EI/AP_Auto_In­dustry_Recall_Problem_Jan_2018.pdf (as of November 24, 2018).
2 Molnar, C. “GM recalls 1,500 cars in Canada due to power steering failure.” Driving, 20 Mar. 2019. Available at https://driving.ca/chevrolet/auto-news/news/gm-will-recall-27000-vehicles-due-to-possible-power-steering-failure

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