The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating claims from a former marketing consultant that the country’s largest Honda power sports dealership may have been illegally selling motorcycles, ATVs and other power vehicles by not adhering to safety and recall guidelines. Ernest Vickers III was employed by Southern Honda Powersports in Tennessee for several years during the 2000s, and he now alleges that, despite previous please to federal agencies, the company has been selling potentially defective, damaged or dangerous vehicles as recent as 2010.
Vickers is hardly alone in his accusations, as nine other former employees of the Chattanooga-based dealership have corroborated his claims that Southern Honda was allegedly selling vehicles that were involved in safety recalls between 2004 and 2007, according to the USA Today. In 2010, Vickers reported Southern to federal agencies in an attempt to bring attention to what he believed was the sale of at least 25,000 motorcycles and ATVs over a five-year period. This is a potentially alarming number, as the dealership’s website boasts of having sold more than 45,000 vehicles total since opening 8 years ago.
While Vickers and the other whistleblowers have all signed affidavits for federal agencies, including the NHTSA and Consumer Product Safety Commission, and American Honda, Southern Honda’s owner, Tim Kelly, denies that there is any validity to their claims. However, Vickers has maintained wrongdoing on the company’s behalf for at least five years, according to his statements to the USA Today.
“It’s incomprehensible that American Honda, NHTSA, CPSC and other federal and state agencies I contacted during the past five years didn’t act, because the safety of many consumers who bought vehicles was endangered,” Vickers says. “Now that the agencies are investigating, every vehicle that Southern Honda ever sold should be recalled to ensure it is safe.”
While the NHTSA and CPSC either failed or refused to act on Vickers’ claims in previous years, the investigation is now officially underway. The additional witnesses claim that the company employed assembly staffers that weren’t properly trained for their jobs, nor were proper assembly guidelines adhered to on a regular basis. Even a former general manager accuses Southern of selling at least 1,000 motor vehicles without repairing them according to the standards of the CPSC and NHTSA recall guidelines.
Despite being located in Tennessee, Southern Honda Powersports sells motorcycles, ATVs and other recreational and sport vehicles to consumers in all 50 states, and the company recently opened a satellite store in Orlando.