Customer safety is of the utmost importance and we take any report of fire very seriously.
Fires can occur for a wide variety of reasons and it’s worth noting that, on average, there are 18,000 vehicle fires a year across all manufacturers in the UK*. It is estimated that there are c35 million vehicles registered in the UK.
Vauxhall Corsa D is one of our most popular models, with over 700,000 sold in the UK between 2006 and 2014. Earlier this year we identified a potential fire related issue with a specific Corsa D variant equipped with the 1.4 Turbo petrol engine. Nine cases had previously been reported to us, which we investigated. Two of these cases had resulted in a fire. A Safety Recall to address this issue was initiated in April 2016 for the 2,767 vehicles affected.
When customers report a fire to us we explain that an inspection may be necessary but that we need the permission of their insurance company before we can proceed. This avoids the risk of the customer’s insurance policy being invalidated.
Our preference is to conduct a joint investigation with the customer’s insurer but for a variety of reasons this is not always possible. For example, in some cases the insurance company has already conducted an investigation. In other cases the vehicle may have already been scrapped.
Following the Zafira B issue we strengthened our processes but even so it is not always possible to arrange an inspection.
What’s more, the destructive nature of fire can make the process of identifying a pattern of fires with a common root cause very challenging.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that manufacturers frequently do not get to hear about fires in their vehicles. We found with Zafira B, for example, that many cases only emerged after media reports in October 2015. Some of these dated back several years.
Better access to vehicle fire data could help manufacturers with early detection of safety issues. We are therefore working through our Industry body to understand how manufacturers can gain access to data in order to build a more complete picture of potential issues.
Customers with concerns relating to the issues raised by Watchdog are advised to visit www.vauxhall.co.uk/watchdog.
*Source: Auto Express 14th September 2016; based on UK Fire and Rescue Service data