Automotive companies normally have the most fantastic advertisements and are known to wow the public with every new model that comes on the market, so when they get in the news for pretty terrible PR it shocks everyone. Let’s take a look at the most scandalous articles ever to hit the world of cars.
Volkswagen fans were terrified when they made the headlines for all the worst reasons thinkable, they got caught using particular devices to mask polluting effects of their diesel cars. Worst of all it was not masking by a few percentages, the cars were actually producing 40 times more than the accepted limit. This was an epic scandal in the automotive industry and could not have done Volkswagen any good.
Volkswagen seems not to learn from their mistakes, researchers discovered that the immobilizer that was used by over 25 manufacturers that provided little protection, it included cars from Fiat, Honda, Ferrari, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Police issued statements after cars were stolen from driveways without keys, which made researchers look into the issue. It took legal action to suppress findings as Volkswagen claimed it would encourage thefts if the article were published. After a year the results were published, the immobilizers had encryption that enabled thieves to tap into the key fob signal, listen twice and find the recurring code and that, with the use of a basic computer, could easily replicate the code, resulting in the ability to turn on the engine quickly. Vehicle theft has dropped thanks to more complicated systems but numbers still hide the dramatic spike of keyless entry thefts.
More potential scandals might be coming as researchers in America have proofed it is possible to access a Jeep from your sofa, override electrical systems and even switch off the engine while the car is moving. While the future of the automobile is exciting, manufacturers have a responsibility to keep vehicle owners and their families’ safe, but are they taking this serious?
Some manufacturers do believe they can get away with anything and in 2007 the NHTSA opened an investigation into the Lexus ES350 and found that floor maps could indeed entrap the accelerator pedal and cause acceleration. But Toyota recalled 5500 mats only, not the vehicles.
Instead of issuing a fitment guideline to give the pedal sufficient clearance they continued to produce floormats to the same specification. It took a disaster to stop them in their tracks, although it claimed the lives of a Californian family of 4 in August 2009, after their Lexus ES350 accelerator was mat trapped. In late 2009 it became impossible to hide from the issues and Toyota recalled 9.3 million ES350 cars worldwide.
GM’s faulty ignition switch could turn a car off at speed and disable safety features such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. GM decided to pay injured people off, they thought this to be more cost effective than fixing the part. But the results were deadly and they had to pay compensation for 163 injuries and over 90 deaths. It took a $35 million fine from the Transport Department to issue a recall. Shockingly GM’s failure claimed almost a hundred lives and their disinterest had shocked the world. Still, nothing can bring back the lives lost and that is the real scandal.