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Mercedes-Benz has lowest vehicle recall rate in U.S.: study

An employee adjusts an emblem on a German Mercedes-Benz S-class car at the plant in Sindelfingen near StuttgartJanuary 24, 2014. REUTERS/Mic
An employee adjusts an emblem on a German Mercedes-Benz S-class car at the plant in Sindelfingen near StuttgartJanuary 24, 2014. REUTERS/Mic

(Reuters) - Mercedes-Benz has the lowest recall rate for its vehicles and BMW was the quickest to commence a recall campaign, a long-term study of safety recalls in the United States showed.

General Motors Co , which is undergoing a recall crisis related to a dozen deaths, had the third-lowest recall rate in the 30-year study, done by industry research firm iSeeCars.com. (http://bit.ly/O0uH63)

While GM's recall rate is relatively low, the recent two recalls totaling 1.6 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches "suggest potential systemic issues at the company that inhibited recalls from being issued sooner," iSeeCars said in a press statement.

Overall, the recall rates "give some indication of the quality of the automakers' manufacturing processes," said Phong Ly, chief executive and co-founder of iSeeCars, in a telephone interview.

The Woburn, Massachusetts firm determined the recall rates of 15 major automakers in the U.S. market by comparing the number of vehicles recalled from 1985 to 2014 with the number cars sold from 1980 to 2013.

Mercedes-Benz, owned by Daimler AG , issued recalls at a rate of 0.41, which means that for every 100 cars sold, it recalled 41. Next on the list was Mazda Motor Corp <7261.T> at 0.55, Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> at 0.71 and Subaru, a unit of Fuji Heavy Industries <7270.T> at 0.73.

BMW was the most timely to recall cars in the United States since 1985, as determined by the percentage of recall campaigns that took place within three years of a new vehicle being sold, iSeeCars found.

In BMW's case, it had 232 recalls since 1985, and 87 percent of those involved cars that were less than 3 years old. Second was Nissan at 85 percent, with GM third at just under 85 percent.

The ongoing GM recall and the major recall campaigns by Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> in 2009 and 2010 may make automakers more likely to conduct more recalls, iSeeCars said.

Automakers with the highest recall rates were Hyundai Motor Co <005380.KS> at 1.15, or 115 vehicles recalled for every 100 sold, Mitsubishi Motors Corp <7211.T> at 1.09, Volkswagen AG at 1.06, Volvo, a unit of Geely Automotive Holdings <0175.HK>, at 1.05 and Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles , at 1.00.

The total number of vehicles recalled can be higher than he number sold because the same models can be recalled several times for different reasons.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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