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Volvo Recall Issued Over Airbag, Engine Fire Concerns

Nov 23, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Volvo, a Swedish car company with a reputation for making some of the safest automobile on the road, issued a massive worldwide recall today for 56,000 cars.  Some of the vehicles have defective airbags, and others have a material fault that could lead to engine fires.

Most of the recalled Volvo cars where sold in the United States, German, Italy, Britain and Sweden. The airbag recall includes 18,000 Volvo V 70 and XC 70 models.  According to the company, there is a problem with the side airbag software system.  In the event of a collision with a small object, like a fence post, the airbags may not be deployed as quickly as they should be.   Volvo says the problem can be fixed by reprogramming the airbag system’s software, which takes about a half an hour.  The company is sending letters to Volvo owners with information on arranging for the software fix. Volvo said that owners of the recalled cars will receive the airbag software system upgrade free of charge.

The second Volvo recall involves 38,000 diesel powered cars in the S60, V 70, XC 70 and XC 90 models.   According to the company, the fuel injector caps on the recalled Volvo cars are faulty, and can cause fuel leaks.  This in turn can lead to an engine fire.   The company has received reports of some engine fires on the recalled Volvo models in Europe, but it is unclear exactly how many incidents there have been.

Volvo is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, which purchased the Swedish automaker in 1999 for $6.45 billion.  Since then, Ford has relied on Volvo as it seeks to globalize its design and production systems.  However, there was some speculation this year that Ford might be seeking to sell Volvo, as Ford focused on turning around its loss-making North American operations.  But earlier this month, Ford said that it intended to hold on to Volvo, and wants to build Volvo's position as a global premium vehicle producer.

These latest Volvo recalls are ironic for a company that bills itself as a leader in automobile safety.    Just one day prior to announcing the recalls, some Volvo sedans had received top honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for vehicle safety in front, side, and rear impact crash protection.   

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