It took 11 accidents involving the freshly launched 458 Italia with five of them being ruined by fire, and a whole lot of media attention from the internet, for Ferrari to finally investigate the issue and announce a total recall on their latest supercar.
Being that Ferrari considers itself as something out of this world that is not subject to the same unwritten rules as the rest of the automakers, the company did not publish a broadly available press release to inform the media, and consequently, the public, about a problematic product that puts at a fiery risk the lives of its clients. Instead, the Italian brand simply answered questions to individual media outlets such as CNN through its spokespersons.
According to CNN, Ferrari's investigators discovered "defects in the bonding adhesive used to attach the heat-shield to the wheel arch in each of the five cars" that caught fire. Since the heat-shield is used to shelter the wheel arch housing from the exhaust pipe, if the glue dissolves, then the housing is exposed to extremely high temperatures and can catch on fire.
However, the Italian company claims that it takes a combination of extreme conditions to actually cause a fire.
"Heavy usage of the car, such as driving very fast down a twisty road or up a mountain, will increase the temperature inside the engine bay," the Ferrari spokeswoman said. (And we all know that everyone buys a Ferrari to cruise at 50mph on the highway...)
"If that is combined with extremely high ambient temperatures, which has been the case throughout Europe especially this summer, then this will cause the defamation of the wheel arch, bringing it closer to the exhaust and causing the car to smoke or ignite."
The company told the news site that it plans to recall and examine all 1,148 cars produced up to July 30 this year. The five fire-related incidents have occurred in the U.S., Britain, France, Switzerland and China.
"We're contacting clients across the world to get them to bring their cars back to the dealers so we can check the wheel arch," the spokesperson said. "If necessary we will replace the heat-shield with a new heat-shield that is riveted to the wheel arch rather than attached with the adhesive."