Vauxhall showed a reckless disregard for safety that needlessly put drivers and their families at risk when a series fires affected one of its most popular models, MPs have said.
A new report from the Transport Select Committee says the carmaker was too slow to begin a full investigation and too quick to attribute the fires to improper and unauthorised repair.
Some fires destroyed entire vehicles
MPs said the decision to let people continue to drive affected Zafira B models, once it knew that vehicles already recalled still caught fire, amounted to ‘a reckless disregard for safety’.
In 2015, Vauxhall’s Zafira B model became a cause for concern when a distinctive pattern of fires was identified. Some of the fires were serious enough to destroy entire vehicles.
Committee chair Louise Ellman said: ‘Vehicle fires are terrifying for their occupants and other road users. In this inquiry, we heard how one car manufacturer was too slow to acknowledge drivers’ concerns, too slow to begin an investigation, too slow to address the causes and too slow to alert drivers of real safety concerns. Drivers and their families were needlessly put at risk.’
The MPs also say the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) should have taken action more quickly and are critical of the decision not to perform independent testing as part of initial investigations.
However, the MPs say more must be done to ensure that the DVSA is able to take proportionate and effective enforcement action to ensure vehicle safety and that current 'Code-based approach' should be backed up by a credible threat of prosecution for a failure to comply with an instruction from the DVSA.
The Committee adds that, as well as ensuring vehicles are safe to drive, the Department for Transport has a role to play in maintaining public confidence in any recall announced by a manufacturer and ‘cannot rely on manufacturers doing the right thing voluntarily’.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said, “Consumers can be confident that the UK’s vehicle recall process is one of the most comprehensive and successful in the world, delivering an exceptionally high response rate, compared to other sectors, of more than 90%.'