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#Analysis: Yet another car fire tragedy in Delhi, no signs of recall policy!

Friday, 6 June 2014 - 1:07pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: Zee Research Group

Be it Porsche, Mercedes or Ferrari-the World’s top brands are common to Indian roads. But when it comes to adhering best global practices, the country certainly misses many of them especially the mandatory car recall policy.
 
Now the union Road Transport ministry has woken up in car fire tragedies which have killed several people in the last few months. Recently, many innocent people in the capital have lost their lives due to car fire tragedies. To avoid such mishappenings, the ministry has decided to chart out a time-bound investigation of such accidents and automobiles companies to rectify the faults.
 
However, car recall practice is mandatory in most of the countries. In many countries manufactures recall cars to fix potential problems in the interest of public safety. Zee Research Group (ZRG) profiles the key flaws in the system to deal with rising fire tragedies in car.

Exhibit 1: No mandatory cars recall policy in India yet!

 In India there isn’t a mandatory car recall policy in place. All the recalls till date have been voluntary. Almost every other country in the world has a recall policy that demands manufacturers to fix potential problems in the interest of public safety, and if they fail to do so can incur a penalty.
However, the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises is set to prescribe a policy of mandatory recalls, which will do away with the current system of voluntary recalls by auto companies. In addition, it is revamping the sampling and testing norms, with testing agencies being allowed to pick up 75 per cent samples from factories and remaining 25 per cent from dealers across the country.

Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has been requested to indicate changes required to be made in Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 to facilitate discharge of the role of the Central Government as a result of implementation of the said Code. Ministry of Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises (Department of Heavy Industry) has also constituted an Inter-Ministerial Group on Auto Recall and End of Life of Vehicles.

 In July 2012, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) announced a Voluntary Code on Vehicle Recall. The policy outline asks for manufacturers to voluntarily rectify safety defects arising from malfunctioning steering and brake systems, unintended fuel leakages, cracked or broken wheels and faulty wiring. The policy also states that the manufacturers shouldn’t only cover cars within the warranty period, but all cars manufactured with the faulty parts. However the policy does not ask for a regulatory body that tests the vehicles and can give recommendations to manufacturers for recalls.

Exhibit 2: Mounting car fire tragedies in the capital

Dated

Incident

Reason of fire

 

Jun 5, 2014

 

Two mentally challenged siblings from Gurgaon were charred to death after the car in which they were travelling burst into flames in southwest Delhi.

The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained although a short circuit is suspected.

May 13, 2014

 

A youth had a narrow when his parked Audi Q7 caught fire suddenly and even gutted a Maruti 800 parked next to it.

Short circuit

May 8,2014

 

A 30-year-old businessman was charred to death when the car he was driving suddenly caught fire at Outer Ring road in Delhi's Mangolpuri area .The deceased was driving Toyota Etios car.

Short circuit

Jan 11, 2014

 

A man was burnt to death when his Maruti SX4 caught fire in Pul Prahladpur, southeast Delhi.
The cause of the fire is not known yet but cops suspect that a short circuit might have caused the fire.

 

Short circuit

 

Exhibit 3: Recently, car recalled by manufacturer globally  

 

Year/Month

Car recall due to fire fear

Company and product

Country of Recall

May 2014

US car giant General Motors recalled 218,000 cars in the US over fire safety fears.

Chevrolet Aveo

United States

March 2014

Honda recalled close to 900,000 Odyssey minivans due to a potential fire hazard that might be dangerous for drivers.

Odyssey minivans

United States

December 2011

Tata Motors recalled 70,000 cars to install a fuse in the electric wiring system. This was done to prevent short circuiting that had been traced as the cause of the fires.

India

Tata Nano

January  2010

Honda recalled 646,000 of its Fit/Jazz and City automobiles globally over a faulty window switch after a child died the in 2010 when a fire broke out in one of its cars.

Honda Fit/Jazz and City

The recall includes 140,000 vehicles in the United States and covers the models sold in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia, but not Japan.

October 2009

On October 13, 2009, Ford Motor Co. expanded its largest-ever recall by about 4.5 million vehicles equipped with  a faulty cruise-control switch linked to at least 550 vehicle fires nationwide, and the destruction of many homes and other properties.  Ford has now recalled more than 14 million vehicles in eight separate recalls over a 10-year period because of the problem.

Ford

Nationwide

October 2009

Ford recalled huge batch of vehicles, including 1995-2002 Explorers and 14 other trucks, SUVs and minivans for problems with the cruise-control deactivation switch. It was found that the cruise-control mechanism on these vehicles could overheat and smoke or catch fire, even while parked.

Ford

United States

August  2008

General Motors recalled 857,735 vehicles equipped with a heated windshield-wiper fluid system in the United States after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said short-circuit in the system may cause other electrical features to malfunction, increasing the risk of a fire.

General Motors 

United States

 Source: Media reports

 




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