Motor vehicles and their parts were the second-most-common category of goods reported in safety warnings by consumer regulators in the European Union last year, according to a new report from the EU Safety Gate system.
This involves European consumer regulators receiving safety warnings about products, including from automakers, and circulating these alerts via the Safety Gate portal. The idea is that all EU member states are aware of these problems and can act, possibly by insisting on a product recall.
The Safety Gate annual report says EU national authorities exchanged 2,257 alerts on dangerous products last year, of which 19% were about motor vehicles (419 alerts being logged – 266 involving passenger cars, 36 vans, 25 buses, 14 trucks, seven trailers, plus some reports on parts – for instance, safety belts – and 42 motorcycles).
All but one of the 419 automobile alerts said they posed a serious risk to drivers and passengers. (Toys were the most common products subject to safety warnings in the EU last year – 31% of the total).
Wards research into the EU Safety Gate database showed, however, that 2018 was an improvement for motor vehicle safety alerts on 2017 when 438 were logged; in 2016, the number was 408.
The main risks flagged by the report for what was formerly called the EU Rapid Alert System regarding safety problems for all products were chemical risks and physical injuries (25% each). Analyzing returns in the database for autos, 87% of vehicle-related warnings involved physical-injury risk from faulty airbags, poorly fixed windows, unreliable seat latches, failures in dashboard engine warning displays, brake pedal weaknesses and more.
A good example is a warning following a recall of Mitsubishi models, including Lancers, made between 2011 and 2018, where inappropriate programming of electrical control units led to them stopping the engine during driving and preventing the cars from re-starting, increasing the risk of accidents.
Meanwhile, 57 alerts (13.6%) highlighted the risk of burns, including Volkswagen models built in 2011 that had an incorrectly installed spring in the starter motor’s magnetic switch that could overheat and cause a fire (VW recalled the models concerned). Just one report highlighted chemical risks (the use of banned phthalates in plastics).
Among the source countries of cars subject to safety warnings in 2018, 82 (30.8%) were from Germany; France, 55 (20.6%); Japan, 38 (14.2%); U.K., 23 (8.6%); U.S., 19 (7.1%); Spain, 15 (5.6%); and Italy, 10 (3.75%). Nine were from South Korea, four from Turkey, three from the Czech Republic, two from Sweden, one from China and one from India.
Regarding car brands subjected to safety warnings in 2018, there were 28 about Mercedes-Benz models, 21 regarding Peugeot, 16 for Volkswagen, 14 for Mitsubishi, 12 for Ford 11 for Toyota; nine for BMW and three for Subaru.
Looking ahead, motor vehicle safety alerts continue to be regularly reported to the Safety Gate system, with 148 being logged by April 10 of this year.