The automotive industry has seen its fair share of controversies and scandals, where some of the most reputable and customer trusted brands were exposed. Below we have listed the 3 biggest and most memorable ones in history:
A Tale of Exploding Airbags
In 2015, auto parts manufacturer Takata recalled almost 34 million vehicles that posed a threat to customers. This recall was the largest in U.S. history. These cars contained exploding airbag inflators.
Studies revealed that the propellant used in these airbags for inflating purposes were prone to modify their chemical structure due to moisture. As a consequence, it was easily inflammable, which in turn made the inflator burst.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the faulty airbags caused 15 deaths and 250 injuries.
Usually, an automotive controversy damages a single company. However, when it was revealed that Volkswagen engaged in fraudulent activities by cheating in the diesel emissions testing, it shook the entire auto industry. Volkswagen’s futile attempts to cover those irregularities only fueled the fire. Diesel power plants were hugely affected in both Europe and the U.S., as a result, regulators had to step in and take a far more serious review of the emissions in diesel engines.
This scandal started in West Virginia where researchers were testing Volkswagen’s automobiles. They found out that there were severe discrepancies in the test results of VW diesel emissions.
The results of the lab tests were considerably different in comparison to the real-life road results. Subsequently, they contacted the California Air Resources Board and shared their findings. Alarmed by those reports, the agency launched an investigation.
Soon, it was discovered that VW used a cheat device that showed reduced emissions during the standardized evaluation. As a result, the company was brought to a standstill amidst heavy outrage.
Martin Winterkorn, the Volkswagen Group CEO, had to resign. Apart from the deflated brand reputation, the company also suffered on the financial side – in the U.S. alone, they reported a $30 billion loss.
The Acceleration Scandal
Toyota used to command a healthy reputation for designing safe cars. In the 2009-2011 period, the company had to recall several of its cars. At that time, customers came up with complaints of their cars experiencing sudden surges in acceleration.
At first, the company suspected that the floor mats pressed the accelerator. However, when the issue was resolved after recalls, they found out that there was another probable cause; the pedal stuck and caused the acceleration. As a result, Toyota had to repair millions of its models. The automaker accepted its negligence in the court and paid a $1.2 billion fine.