Record automobile industry recalls reported for 2014. How to improve this track record?

Spiegel Online Auto recently published an interesting article (in German) about the increase of recalls in the automotive industry. According to the article, in 2014 OEMs have already recalled about 17 million cars. Last year, in the US alone, the recalls were more than 20.5 million cars. This equals a quota of 131%. Yes, this’s correct, and it means that 31% more cars get called back than sold in the US – amazing! 

An automobile expert quoited in the article stated the reasons for the quality issues and the recalls:

  • Increase in complexity of the technology

  • Speed of development

  • More and more development and production processes are moved to different suppliers

  • Cost pressure

  • Building blocks and common parts strategy

Auto recall, car off roadThe enormous monetary costs of recalls (to say nothing to  the damage to their brands) makes reducing recalls a critical issue for all OEM´s. Just one example: automotive industry experts calculated that the last Toyota recall of 6.6 million cars would cost at least $600 million USD.

It seems clear that it will be important to improve and invest further in quality management. That includes software too, as software in cars is a key innovation driver. For example, Audi recently introduced a model with a 100% software-driven dash panel. Software quality is an ever-increasing component of the overall product quality equation.

With shorter development cycles, increasing complexity and cost pressure the role of a professional Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) system becomes crucial. In fact it is the only way to manage the “stress-ratio” between complexity, faster development cycle and cost pressure in an efficient way. This means companies need to align their development and production process with a professional set of state-of-the art lifecycle tools that includes a solid testing and quality management component.

You may have heard of the recent investment in Polarion Software by Siemens Venture Capital. Not only is this an exciting vote of confidence in our already robust ALM solution, it will also enable us to work closely together with Siemens to converge with their PLM solution. We foresee the end result that can help OEMs and suppliers reduce recalls and produce safer vehicles for everyone. And that’s a goal we can be proud to help achieve.

Polarion Software Automotive Solutions

Photo Credit: Burrows

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at