If you've ever smashed up a car in an accident, you've probably had the unpleasant experience of dealing with insurance agents who assess what can be saved and what has to be written off. In most cases, insurance companies might find ways to save as much as they can. But the insurers of the Cougar Ace want to make sure every last nut and bolt of some $100 million worth of new Mazdas are completely scrapped.

The Cougar Ace, as you'll recall, was a ship full of Mazda automobiles that nearly capsized in the Pacific Ocean two years ago. Although the cars were securely strapped down, Mazda deemed it impossible to determine the extent of the potential damage caused to each of the vehicles on board, so rather than risk the cars making their way onto the market – like many Katrina-damaged vehicles from New Orleans three years ago – the company and its insurers decided each car had to be scrapped. The process of destroying 4703 vehicles, however, proved to be quite a challenge. Airbags had to be triggered, wheels sliced and tires purposely punctured. For the airbag process alone, it would have taken half an hour for each car, so Mazda developed a device to inflate them all at once on each car, saving countless hours of work. The result is a seemingly counter-intuitive disassembly line turns the nearly 5000 new cars into metal shards. Follow the jump to read more about the process.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]


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