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Motor vehicle recalls: trends, patterns and emerging issues


  • Hilary Bates
  • Nick Oliver
  • Matthias Holweg
  • Michael Lewis


This paper examines patterns and trends in motor vehicle safety recalls using a dataset based on 23.1 million vehicles registered in the UK between 1992 and 2002. A safety recall occurs when vehicle manufacturers call vehicles that have been sold and are in use back to their dealership for safety-related remedial work. Safety recalls can be costly for car makers, and potentially harmful to brand and image. The data show that the incidence of vehicle recalls has been increasing between 1998 and 2002 there was an average of over 120 recall incidents per annum in the UK, compared to less than 50 per annum between 1992 and 1994. Total numbers of vehicles recalled show no trend over time, but absolute level of recalls year on year is very high: 10.8 million vehicles were recalled during 1992-2002, representing 47% of all vehicle registrations in the period. Moreover, there are substantial differences in recall rates between different car manufacturers, suggesting that recall rates may be a useful final indicator of process performance in the car design-and-production chain. European and American producers have recall rates that are nearly three times greater than their East Asian counterparts. This paper offers some suggestions for corporate differences in propensity to recall, and concludes with an agenda for further research. A later version of this paper will be published in Omega Vol. 35, Issue 2, April 2007: 202-210. For further details please click here .

Suggested Citation

  • Hilary Bates & Nick Oliver & Matthias Holweg & Michael Lewis, 2004. "Motor vehicle recalls: trends, patterns and emerging issues," Working Papers wp295, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp295
    Note: PRO-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deeg, Richard, 2001. "Institutional change and the uses and limits of path dependency: The case of German finance," MPIfG Discussion Paper 01/6, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Streeck, Wolfgang, 2001. "The transformation of corporate organization in Europe: An overview," MPIfG Working Paper 01/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    3. Simon Deakin & Richard Hobbs & David Nash & Giles Slinger, 2002. "Implicit contracts, takeovers and corporate governance: in the shadow of the city code," Working Papers wp254, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    4. S. Deakin & R. Hobbs & S. Konzelmann & F. Wilkinson, 2001. "Partnership, Ownership and Control: The Impact of Corporate Governance on Employment Relations," Working Papers wp200, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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