Owners of about 55,000 Vauxhall Zafira models have ignored company warnings to have their cars checked for possible fires hazard, politicians have been told.
Now, Vauxhall is calling for the establishment of a national vehicle fire database to quickly gather information on reported fires and trace likely vehicles for recalls.
Speaking to the Transport Select Committee, Vauxhall representatives called on Government to help the automotive industry gain access to information about vehicle fires held by insurers.
Encouragingly, Vauxhall understands that the Association of British Insurers has written to the Transport Select Committee to say that, in principle, it supports the proposal.
Vauxhall believe that by accessing information from insurers, manufacturers may be able to identify potential issues earlier than at present.
Estimates for the number of vehicle fires vary widely, ranging from 18,000 per year (Auto Express) to 100,000 per year (fireservice.co.uk).
By collecting data from insurers it will be possible to gain a much more accurate picture of the number of fire cases and how they relate to specific models.
Whilst the data will not reveal the causes of fire, it can nevertheless play an invaluable role in alerting manufacturers to potential issues much earlier than is possible at present.
As Vauxhall’s experience with Zafira B shows, manufacturers have limited visibility of fires in their vehicles. Many Zafira B fire cases, for example, were reported to Vauxhall several years after they took place and only as a result of publicity in October 2015.
Vauxhall also told the committee about the challenges manufacturers face in completing safety recalls. For example, whilst 166,000 UK-registered Zafira Bs have now had their second and final fix, 55,000 have not had the work done, despite owners receiving up to seven letters.
These include thousands of vehicles without an MOT and thousands more ‘sold to trade’. Vauxhall is doing everything it can to reach the remaining vehicles, including co-operating with the AA and RAC to gain access to alternative contact information for owners.
However, Vauxhall believe that 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.