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How to Destroy 4700 Brand New Cars Answered

As someone who feels that given enough time I can fix anything, this is one of those stories that really pains me. In 2006, a car freighter transporting 4,700 new cars from Japan to the US listed to its side as the crew was adjusting the ship's ballast. The ship leaned over to approximately 60 degrees, but was eventually righted in an operation that cost the life of one of the team members. Wired has the best coverage of how the ship was saved: High Tech Cowboys of the Deep Seas: The Race to Save the Cougar Ace.

Having saved the cars, Mazda was now faced with the dilemma of what to do with them. Turning down options to donate, or in some cases even sell, the cars to fire extrication trainers, auto repair schools, or even Hollywood for stunts, Mazda has decided to carefully render each part inoperable -- cutting all four wheels in half, for example! -- shred the cars, and recycle the steal -- probably into new cars. They even created a purpose-built machine to detonate all six airbags at once. Be amazed and a little disgusted all at the same time by checking out the Wall Street Journal's coverage A Crushing Issue: How to Destroy Brand-New Cars and video:

39 Replies

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Flintlock (author)2011-10-01

Is it sad that I remember when this topic was first posted three years ago?

How time flies.

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oodinaka (author)2011-10-01

they should have donate it to charity instead of destroying it......

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RetroLeatherHatter (author)2010-03-26

I'm on the same wavelength with you Killer Jackalope! Like a sort of "Cradle to Cradle" policy can and must be implemented worldwide to prevent more of this disgusting corporate waste! Now we have the whole Toyota recall mess...

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jmrock (author)2010-03-07

or unfortunately there are 2 others - "law suit"
we live in a sue happy get rich fast world- it's safer for them- I'm sure

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punkfan01 (author)2010-03-04

two words "Tax Write-off"

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Derin (author)2008-08-18

last time I took my van to replace a simple part,the manager said they did not have that part,and the engine was made from about 5000 parts!:O

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Lithium Rain (author)2008-06-11

How sad...somebody died salvaging those cars, and then they just destroy them! :(

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xxbgxx (author)2008-06-09

smart move for a company why to worry about ppl try to sue them while they can take back the money from insurance company....

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gimmelotsarobots (author)2008-05-07

Not even selling them for movie stunts???!!!!! That's just wrong! Those cars could be used for all kinds of stuff. Selfish jerks!

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user

And what about the man who died ? (just curious)

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A momenet of silence for him of course! I don't mean to disrespect him. Seriously, that is a horrible thing to have to lose your life over. Poor guy.

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membrane (author)2008-05-11

It just occurred to me the real reason they destroyed all 4700 cars. It's very simple they did it for insurance claims and nothing more. Though some where contaminated with oil and water vs having simple surface damage. Though checking each car out wouldn't cost much maybe 3 hours each at $35 an hour at the most. If they sold the usable vehicles they would have to fight with the insurance company on what would be proper compensation for the reduced prices vs getting compensated for the full value. This would rack up large legal costs though plus the small risk someone might sue trying to blame this incident on their accident even if there was nothing tying said accident to the damage in the shipping accident. Though I'm surprised this didn't result in a case of insurance fraud or the insurance company didn't seize and sell off the damaged goods.

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membrane (author)2008-05-05

Disgustingly wasteful I could have made some good EVs out of some of them. A perfect example of corporate waste in action even if the materials used in their construction are recycled the energy used in their construction cannot be recovered. I can only see complete destruction as necessary if they were exposed to salt water or the frame was bent. Going as far as cutting wheels in half seems nuts to me worst case just crush the bodies and sell the functional parts as used. Oddly enough many car companies do sell certified preowned cars which might actually be a much larger risk to said reputation then slightly damaged merchandise.

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PKM (author)2008-05-05

You make it sound simple- having nearly 5,000 cars "checked out", ie completely disassemble, check integrity of each individual part (which may need specialist equipment) and still not be able to ensure 100% that they are safe to drive and won't cause loss of life, then give them away? "Hurricane Katrina victim family die in accident casued by driving give-away Mazda"... now that would be an image ruiner. This case reminds me of that of the car company that were found to be selling human lives for something like $11 each, the price of a retrofit that would rectify a design flaw that was clearly implicated in previous fatalities. IIRC the glove box door was a single piece of pressed sheet steel, and in a head-on collision the latch would spring open and the edge of the glove compartment door would decapitate the front passenger. These details are sketchy as I heard about this quite a long time ago and can't find any good details about it on the web, but the tl;dr is the company knew about the flaw and decided not to do a recall because of the expense and what it would do to their image.

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caitlinsdad (author)2008-05-02

In a materialistic way, it was a waste. But if look at in the context of the Asian psyche, there is deep meaning in having lost one life in what is a tragic accident. You would essentially have "haunted" cars with a troubled spirit and it would not bring "honor" or rest to have sold the salvaged cars. Not a light decision to make if you are bound to tradition.

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user

Very interesting analysis ... If this is really the motivation behind the destruction of those cars, then, this difference between Asia and West is quite impressing. The first priority in West : "profitability" at any price. They seems more shocked by the destruction of some cars than by the fact someone lost his life ... The first priority in Asia : the meaning and implications of a human loss. And they seems more shocked by the death of a man than the by the destruction of some cars ... Which of those two point of view is more respectable ?

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In a way, same divergent views on why people argue over why you can or cannot build on Ground Zero World Trade Center grounds. Businesses demand that you get it back to make money but morals/ethics/faith says you cannot do anything but memorialize it.

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caitlinsdad (author)caitlinsdad2008-05-04

Oh, it's not really about being susperstitious or not but there are just some things in life you do or question if you don't have a warm fuzzy feeling about it...

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The business men aren't particularly traditional to say the least, this is money making and material wasting, in japan and china there are massive worries over the loss of tradition due to the western invasion and general new tech and moneymaking industries...

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user

Yeah, just look at the corruption and the whole Samsung scandal in Korea. You would hope that in all humanity it still has a conscience.

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not likely... having a conscience is considered to be part of the 20th century... if they do anything good they say concious of because they're thinking publicity not humanity...

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Charger_06 (author)2008-05-02

all i can say is hand them over ill take them! i know they were afraid of a law suite but i wouldn't sue then!

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No you wouldn't sue them, but someday you'd have an accident and the person you got into an accident with would sue them, these cars had to be destroyed, selling them, giving them away, reusing parts would have left them open to endless litigation.

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user

why would the person i got into a wreck with sue them?

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Because Mazda has more money than you, the person would simply claim that some defect caused by the ship tilting caused the accident. Then Mazda would have to fight in court or settle, either would cost them money.

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Not to mention brand loyalty. This act will save lies, which personally makes me feel better about Mazda.

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incorrigible packrat (author)2008-05-03

I especially loved the bit where the spokesdroid says something about, "they couldn't risk tarnishing the brand name that Mazda has worked so hard building up over the years". I thought they did that already, by putting junky Ford-like engines in their new cars. I owned a '92 Mazda Protege. It would have run circles 'round any new Mazda 3 (and used less gas) had not the whizzos at Bank Street Mazda in Ottawa, Ontario, got their grimy paws on it, leading to its early retirement from service.

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nafango22 (author)2008-05-03
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zachninme (author)2008-05-03

As disgusting as it is to trash all these cars, I completely understand why they have to do it.
These cars are not in a usable condition. If they sold them for parts, undoubtly many would be sold by shady dealers. They can't let that happen.

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T3h_Muffinator (author)2008-05-03

I knew corporate earth was bad, but I didn't realize that it was this bad. Such a lovely set of parts. Had they donated those parts to us, just imagine what we could have built!

shakes head

tsk.tsk.

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thefunktopus (author)2008-05-03

Couldn't they do what they do to old boats, tow them out to sea then sink them to create a habitat for marine wildlife?

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CameronSS (author)2008-05-02

Reminds me of the EV...

No, I don't want to argue about it, so don't start.

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CameronSS (author)CameronSS2008-05-02

er...that's EV1...whoops...

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locofocos (author)2008-05-02

I don't get it... why couldn't the cars get out onto the market? They didn't want anybody to have them... what's so special about them that they have to be destroyed?

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LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-05-02

These would have been perfect for my ev conversion! What a waste

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killerjackalope (author)2008-05-02

I'm so anrgy to see that, for example fifty percent of the wheels on the cars would be fine...

Uhh this is is like as annoying as it was amazing to see a forklift drive into belfast lough, the docks full of a million kinds of nasty, the driver was ill for weeks, the forklift was fished out and running the next day, grr my rage is undeniably peaked here... Sorry for ranting but god I'm used to driving machines with all kinds of insane damage, the guy that worked in the same workyard as us once put both the suspension struts of his car through the bonnet, he managed to drive about a mile back to the yard, where the car promptly disintegrated, most of that was salvagable, see the lillions of old 1.9 diesels from older generations, that's a few million generator engines right there, remove turbos and govern to 2500rpm, the turbos can go on to the still running ones since they tend to outlast the rest of the thing after replacement or build jet engines, the bulbs are all salvaged and given to the madman repair guy, it wont work the same but it'll work when he's done, we took all the wheel studs, rims and still usable tyres for harbour runabouts, the gearboxes usually ended up in other cars or sold for high quality scrap, that is after the old oil was drained out and filtered, on old junk machines that does fine as hydraulic oil, hell our forklift used a mix of hyraulic oil, diesel, used oil and once topped up with cooking oil, it was fueled in a similar manner... All the air filters were taken out and cleaned, sold on cheap again...

Yet they do this with a bunch of mildy damaged cars, it occurs to me you could mix and match the completely standard parts and get maybe a third of them in goo saleable condition...

Bloody wasters...

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Goodhart (author)killerjackalope2008-05-02

*sigh* we live in a throw-away mindset of a society. The cost-effectiveness Of finding out what was wrong with each and then fixing it, was probably more then just "starting over". It is sad to see the world come to this...

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killerjackalope (author)Goodhart2008-05-02

Yeah, it's just annoying because they see a scrap heap, I see a goldmine... trust me I'd find usage for 90% of the pars and cars, even conversion to motorbikes for the spare near whole cars in need of serious repairs...

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Doctor What (author)2008-05-02

Que Asco! Why ruin perfectly good cars?! It's just a waste of materials.

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