UK carmaker wants national car fires database

⦁ UK automaker calls for car fire numbers
⦁ Numbers by manufacturer the target
⦁ Perhaps 100 000 fires a year in UK

LONDON, England – Vauxhall, the UK brand associated with Germany’s Opel, has called for a national vehicle fire database.

The company addressed the British parliament’s Transport Select Committee on Monday (Jan 6 2017) with representatives seeking state assistance in accessing auto insurers’ vehicle fire data.

Vauxhall believes the Association of British Insurers had already written to the committee to say that, in principle, it supported the proposal.

‘MORE ACCURATE PICTURE’

The automaker believes such access would accelerate the identification of potential issues. Estimates of the number of vehicle fires in the UK, it said, varied from 18 000 (Auto Express) to 100 000 a year (fireservice.co.uk).

Insurance data would enable a much more accurate picture of the number of vehicle fire cases, particularly by brand. While records might not reveal the cause of fires they might more quickly alert manufacturers to issues.

As Vauxhall’s experience with Zafira (Opel) B shows, automakers have limited visibility of fires in their products. “Many Zafira B fires were, for example, only reported to Vauxhall several years after they happened,” Vauxhall said, “and even then only because of publicity in October 2015.”

‘THOUSANDS WITHOUT ROADWORTHY’

Vauxhall also told the committee of challenges automakers faced in completing safety recalls. “For example, 166 000 UK-registered Zafira B units have now had their second and final fix but 55 000 have not despite owners receiving as many as seven letters.”

These included thousands of vehicles without an MOT (annual Ministry of Transport roadworth check) and thousands more “sold to trade”.

“Vauxhall is doing everything it can to reach the remaining vehicles,” the automaker said, “including co-operating with the AA and RAC (Royal Automobile Club) to access alternative contact information.

“However, we believe the industry and government can work more effectively together to close the gap – for example by incorporating a check on outstanding safety recalls into the MOT process.”

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