Mazda Destroyed 4,703 Brand New Cars After Cargo Ship Accident

Automobile makers usually try to find the best way to build a car, but Mazda had the unenviable task of finding the best way to destroy over 4,700 brand new cars:

It all started about two years ago, when a ship carrying 4,703 shiny new Mazdas nearly sank in the Pacific. The freighter, the Cougar Ace, spent weeks bobbing on the high seas, listing at a severe 60-degree angle, before finally being righted.

The mishap created a dilemma: What to do with the cars? They had remained safely strapped down throughout the ordeal -- but no one knew for sure what damage, if any, might be caused by dangling cars at such a steep angle for so long. Might corrosive fluids seep into chambers where they don't belong? Was the Cougar Ace now full of lemons?

The Japanese car maker, controlled by Ford Motor Corp., easily could have found takers for the vehicles. Hundreds of people called about buying cheap Mazdas. Schools wanted them for auto-shop courses. Hollywood asked about using them for stunts.

Mazda turned everyone away. It worried about getting sued someday if, say, an air-bag failed to fire properly due to overexposure to salty sea air.

It also worried that scammers might find a way to spirit the cars abroad to sell as new. That happened to thousands of so-called "Katrina cars" salvaged from New Orleans' flooding three years ago. Those cars -- their electronics gone haywire and sand in the engines -- were given a paint job and unloaded in Latin America on unsuspecting buyers, damaging auto makers' reputations.

Joel Millman of The Wall Street Journal has the story (and video): Link - via Look At This


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Back in the day, when glutamine came out as the latest sweetener, think it was right after saccharin was the hot deal, food manufacturers converted an entire year's food supply to glutamine, until some FDA got a hair up their keister that glutamines were cancer causing, then we had to help our grandfather to empty out his entire food warehouse and bury it in the nearby landfill, back before there was inventory loss for FDA declaration, and ours was 1 of 100,000s similar food product destructions which continue today with 1000s TONS of food destroyed. All the shrimp fed on Chinese melamine for example, but now FDA says well, a "little bit" is OK for humans, like a little bit of mercury, or dioxins, or perchlorates. The really sad part is that now codes are requiring storm water remediation at the cost of billions because it contains pet poop bacteria, but those same billions aren't being spent to keep the poop out of our food!
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It's a huge liability risk. You can get a buyer to sign something, but then they sell the car to someone who sells it to someone else, &c.

I was an automotive engineer for a US manufacturer for 12 years and we crushed a lot of test cars that were only lightly used. They could have been sold as low-mileage used (not new of course) cars, but it just wasn't worth the risk. Recovering $20K isn't worth a future lawsuit that could pay out tens of millions and generate a lot of bad press.
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Anyone and everyone should read the article from wired about the recovery effort of this ship(mentioned in Erik's post). One of the edge-of-your-seat stories I have ever read. I couldn't help thinking "when are they going to make a movie out of this?"
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I can't think of any damage a car could suffer from being tilted over. Even if inverted, the only thing you'd have to do is get the oil out of the cylinder heads. And rusted? The cars were in containers, not on the deck. Certainly less salt damage than a car suffers from sitting in a car lot for a couple of months in a coastal town.
I would have taken one for, say, 25% off the price.
I think they saw it as a PR exercise, and, besides, their insurance paid for it.
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