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Friday, April 1, 2011

Wandering spiders and recall of Mazda !!

Have you heard of ‘zoom zoom’ campaign. They are the words used to describe what Mazda called as the "emotion of motion" that it claims is inherent in its cars.  The Zoom-Zoom campaign was accompanied by the "Zoom Zoom Zoom" song in many television and radio advertisements. Early ads in the Zoom-Zoom campaign also featured a young boy -- (Micah Kanters) whispering the "Zoom-Zoom" tagline.

There have been many instances of products recall arising out of defects, especially of cars of various makes – but this one is really bizarre. There is news that the Japanese automaker Mazda is recalling more than 50,000 Mazda6 cars from the 2009-2010 model years in the United States and an additional 15,000 vehicles in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico.  The reason is spider webs…..
I had earlier posted an article on spiders aboard a ship MV Altavia. Guam & MV Altavia   As detailed over there, arachnids are joint-legged invertebrate animals in the subphylum Chelicerata. All arachnids have eight legs, although in some species the front pair may convert to a sensory function. The term is derived from the Greek word  meaning "spider.  That was news about Guam, an island in Western Pacific Ocean where they found spiders crawling on board vessel MV Altavia.

A product recall is a request to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety issues. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence and the possible legal penalties that could follow.  Recalls are not only costly as they entail replacing the recalled product and/or paying for damage and also a loss of face for the Company.  Still a Company would be forced to announce recall to delimit and damage control the consequential costs and liabilities.   
The laws in this regard are country specific and more pronounced in countries which have  consumer protection laws with  specific requirements in regard to product recalls.  This could happen due to legal provisions or sometimes the company on its own voluntarily making recalls.   

On an earlier occasion during Nov 2009, the Toyota made a recall to correct  a possible incursion of an incorrect or out-of-place front driver's side floor mat into the foot pedal well, which can cause pedal entrapment. Subsequently in Jan 2010, the defect was traced to possible mechanical sticking of the accelerator pedal causing unintended acceleration, referred to as Sticking Accelerator Pedal by Toyota. Honda made a recall of Odyssey model for replacement of the front windshield wiper rod due to insufficient stiffness. Hyundai Elantra recall was made to reprogram the air bag control module. Jaguar did to replace the power steering fluid pipes with ones that meet corrosion protection requirements.

All these were manufacturing defects or product related – in the case of Mazda, spider webs were discovered in the vent.  The Company stated that a spider could weave a web in a vent connected to the fuel tank system and clog up the tank's ventilation. Pressure on the fuel tank could lead to a crack, causing fuel leakage and the risk of a fire.  Mazda stated that they were unaware of any fires, injuries or crashes in the vehicles.  It is reported that in the month of Mar 2011, Mazda dealers had identified 20 cases in which spider webs were found in the vents. The recall involves vehicles with 2.5 liter engines built from April 2008 to February 2010. The webs were linked to yellow sac spiders,but it was unclear why they were crawling into the Mazda6 rather than other vehicles. Owners  reportedly are to be notified by and told to take their vehicles to dealers for inspection and repairs. Dealers will inspect and clean up the vent line and install a spring to prevent a spider from entering the vent line.

The problem was  reported to have been first discovered in October 2009 when a dealer found a spider web in a canister vent line when a customer brought their Mazda 6 in for repairs after it started leaking fuel. The dealer investigated further and it was determined that the web blocked up the vent and cause "excessive vacuum" in the fuel tank which "eventually resulted in a crack in the fuel tank through repetitive negative pressure stress," Mazda said in filings with safety regulators.

Interestingly, the arachnoid attraction was  to the sporty cars -- which the company has marketed with its "zoom-zoom'' tagline -- had no specific connection to a particular region of North America.

Mazda Motor Corporation is based in Fuchu, Aki Dist, Hiroshima Perfecture, Japan.  It had earlier announced suspension of production at its Hiroshima and Hofu plants from the night shift on March 14, until March 21, in the wake of the disastrous tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan recently.  There are however reports that Mazda has now decided to resume temporary production at both plants from March 22, producing  replacement parts, parts for overseas production and vehicles utilizing “in-process” inventories.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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