Vauxhall Corsa fires: Calls for national data sharing

Burnt-out car
Image caption Vauxhall owner Julie Reynolds said the whole car "went up"

Calls have been made for a national database to record car fires following incidents involving Vauxhall models.

BBC Watchdog has found details of vehicle fires are not always passed to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Transport select committee member Rob Flello MP said a database would "help the consumer to know that their vehicle is as as safe as it could be".

Vauxhall recalled 220,000 Zafira B cars in 2015 following a series of fires.

And this year, Watchdog investigated a spate of fires involving Vauxhall Corsa D models.

Mr Flello MP said: "I think a database would certainly help the consumer.

"But it would also, of course, help the manufacturer to make sure the cars that we buy are the safest cars possible."

Chris Blacksell, from the Chief Fire Officers' Association, said a database would enable people to analyse the data and spot trends happening.

Image caption Julie Reynolds remembers being in shock and "just crying"

Julie Reynolds, from Chatham, told Watchdog of the moment her Vauxhall Corsa D exploded as she got out of the vehicle in March 2013.

She arrived at work when her manager told her to get out moments before "the whole car went up", she said.

"The worst thing is my son could have been in that car," Ms Reynolds, from Chatham, said. "I wouldn't have got him out in time."

She added: "The whole car went up.

"There was one big explosion. All the windows went in. And then a next explosion. And then another explosion. And the engine fell to the ground. I was just in shock. I was just crying."

Image caption Mrs Reynolds said she would not have had time to get her son out of the car

Vauxhall said it had been advised by BBC Watchdog of six fires relating to the Corsa D.

It said it had examined two of the cars and not detected any manufacturing fault, but the remaining four cars could not be inspected.

The manufacturer said it would inspect any vehicle fire if the car could be made available.

In a statement, it said: "Better access to data about vehicle fires could help all manufacturers with early detection of safety issues.

"Vauxhall is working through our industry body to understand what data sharing opportunities could be put in place to provide greater visibility in this area."

Image caption Other customers have reported similar incidents

Vauxhall admitted there had been a fault with a small batch of Corsa Ds with a 1.4 Turbo petrol engine, but Watchdog said customers have also reported problems with other models.

Bethan Powell, from Manchester, noticed smoke coming from the dashboard of her Corsa Energy and said within minutes the whole car was on fire.

Ciaran Kenny, from London, left his Corsa SXI in a supermarket car park but returned to find it on fire.

And Tish Cochrane, from Hampshire, said her daughter's Corsa SRI burst into flames while it was moving.

Gareth Llewellyn, chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which collects information about potential vehicle defects, said: "Vauxhall has confirmed to DVSA that it will provide owners who don't feel safe using their Corsa D affected with alternative transport until their vehicle is repaired.

"We have made it clear that it is vital Vauxhall swiftly rectifies its problems and it has taken too long for the manufacturer to protect its customers."

The agency is working with the Department for Transport "to consider further action", he added.

See the full report on Watchdog, BBC One, 8pm Wednesday

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