Auto Safety | Cars, Car Parts High on EU Watchdog Safety Agency List

BMW recalled 2-Series Active Tourer X1 to fix potentially defective rear-seat backrests.

BRUSSELS – Automobiles and auto parts have become the second-most dangerous category of goods in the European Union in 2016, according to the most recent annual report of the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Dangerous Products, or RAPEX.

The system issues safety alerts about consumer products within the 28 member states of the EU. Last year, 18% of safety alerts involved automobiles and parts, with 372 notifications, behind toys, at 540. In 2015 automotive warnings made up just 10% of overall notifications, being behind toys and the textile industry.

The increase in automotive warnings was responsible for a significant increase in risks of physical injuries associated with defective products during 2016, which outstripped the number of chemical risks, which were most prevalent in 2015, according to the report.

Britain, Germany, Greece and Portugal were the countries where most automotive safety warnings were generated within the EU in 2016, The report notes there were significant year-on-year increases in consumer-protection-authority actions in Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden, “mostly due to reactions concerning notifications on motor vehicles.”

There were 408 notifications of consumer warnings submitted to RAPEX in the motor-vehicles category during 2016: Germany (214); Britain (54); Portugal (42); and Greece (27) were significant sources of such warnings, according to WardsAuto research on the RAPEX database.

As for where the autos and parts generating these 2016 problems were made, key sources were Germany (108); France (64); the U.S. (54); the U.K. (39); Japan (38); Italy (20); and China (13). One key issue highlighted by the report is that when automotive safety warnings are circulated within the EU, companies generally often react with recalls. This is because unlike clothes and cosmetics, autos can be traced via registration rules and multinational sales networks. There were 2,766 such auto and auto-parts-related actions taken last year, while toys ranked second with only 303.

Examples of problems in the auto sector in 2016 included serious complaints about certain BMW 7-Series, 5-Series and 5-Series Gran Turismo vehicles built between 2008 and 2012 and equipped with a central airbag sensor with faulty software that failed to deploy this device in an accident. RAPEX also filed notifications saying seat-belt tensioners, front airbags and head restraints might not protect drivers or passengers in a crash. As a result, BMW cars were recalled from owners in Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Other RAPEX warnings involved Chevrolet Captiva SUVs…

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