Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) recently wrote to the CEOs of BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America urging them to support the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Act — a bipartisan legislation that would help protect consumers by keeping unsafe, recalled rental cars off the road.
All of the CEOs receiving the letters are members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (the Alliance), the auto industry’s trade association, according to Boxer.
Although the bill has the support of the major rental car companies and consumer advocates, the Alliance has continued to oppose the bill and is working to prevent it from moving forward in the Senate.
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on rental car safety on May 21, 2013, the Alliance raised concerns about the legislation and offered to work with the committee to resolve those concerns.
“Now, an entire year has passed since the Alliance made that commitment. I would like to know – will your company commit to supporting this legislation that would prohibit rental cars under safety recall from being rented or sold to consumers until the defect has been repaired?” Boxer asked the CEOs in her letter.
While current law prohibits car dealerships from selling new vehicles under recall to consumers, no law bans rental car companies from doing the same or renting them to unsuspecting consumers. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act — sponsored by Sen. Boxer and Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — would keep unsafe rental cars that have been recalled off the road.
The bipartisan bill is named in honor of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters from Santa Cruz, who were killed in a tragic accident in 2004 while driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser. The vehicle had been recalled for a power steering hose defect but had not been repaired, according to Boxer. Because of the defect, the car caught fire while traveling on Highway 101 in Monterey County, causing a loss of steering and a head-on collision with a semi-trailer truck.
In September 2012, Sens. Boxer, Schumer and McCaskill announced that all major car rental companies — Hertz, Enterprise, Avis Budget, Dollar Thrifty and National — agreed to voluntarily stop the renting or selling of vehicles that have been recalled by their manufacturer and endorsed the legislation.
A recent report stated that GM has provided 33,000 rental cars to its customers as part of its ignition switch recall.
At a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing in April on GM’s recall of millions of vehicles, Sen. Boxer asked CEO Mary Barra why General Motors was committing to placing owners of their recalled vehicles in rental vehicles while participating in the Alliance’s industry effort to block legislation that would ensure the safety of those rental vehicles. At the hearing, Barra pledged to review the legislation.
Click here to read Sen. Boxer’s letter to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: http://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/press/releases/052314.cfm