Thursday, June 21, 2018

Under pressure from federal regulators, Kia recalls 580,000 vehicles.

Forbes (6/20, Cheryl, Jensen, 10.34M) reports that “following pressure from federal regulators, Kia is recalling about 508,000 vehicles because the air bags may not protect occupants in a crash.” The recall comes “four years after the automaker was named in a suit alleging air bags failed to deploy, according to a chronology included in a report the automaker made to the NHTSA.” Kia maintained that it “had investigated the issue and didn’t think a recall was necessary” even after its parent company Hyundai “recalled 580,000 vehicles earlier this year for the same problem.” In March, “federal regulators announced it was investigating reports of six accidents involving Kias in which the airbags did not deploy.” Kia continued to resist “saying the design of its vehicles was different,” but in May the NHTSA “formally requested a recall.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Defective Takata airbags remain in use due to lack of replacement parts.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel (6/18, 601K) reports that owners of some vehicles equipped with recalled Takata airbags have been unable to have their air bags replaced because replacement parts for some vehicles remain on back order. An AutoNation spokesman said that replacements exist for about 90 percent of vehicles with recalled airbags, but some owners have been waiting for years to have their airbags replaced. The piece lists dozens of vehicles for which replacement parts are difficult to acquire.

NTSB sends investigators to look at Tesla Model S explosion.

In continuing coverage, ABC World News Tonight (6/18, story 6, 1:25, Muir, 14.63M) reported that NTSB is sending investigators to look at a Tesla Model S that exploded in Los Angeles. The LA County Sheriff’s Department “said no one was hurt and that the culprit was a battery or mechanical issue.” The AP (6/18) reports that NHTSA said in a statement that it “continues to collect information regarding this incident and will take appropriate action as warranted.”
        NBC Nightly News (6/18, story 4, 1:50, Holt, 8.26M) reported that the incident was caught on video, which has since been viewed over a million times. The car in the video was driven by director Michael Morris. According to Tesla, the fire was an unusual occurrence and that the vehicle’s batteries are fortified to prevent any fire from spreading into the interior.
        The Washington Post (6/18, Holley, 15.68M) reports that the video was posted on Twitter by actress Mary McCormack, who is Morris’ wife. McCormack said in a post that has since been deleted, “This is what happened to my husband and his car today.” McCormack added, “And thank god my three little girls weren’t in the car with him.” McCormack also thanked the “kind couple” who told her husband to pull over. The article notes that in recent months, “Tesla has faced increasing scrutiny about the performance of its semiautonomous Autopilot feature, production delays and the company’s financial health. But batteries bursting into flames have not been an issue.”

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kia recalls more than 500,000 vehicles in US for airbag issue.

The AP (6/8, Krisher) reports on the recall of “over a half-million vehicles in the U.S.” by Kia “because the air bags may not work in a crash.” The story says the recall is connected to Hyundai’s recall, with both automakers now having recalled “nearly 1.1 million vehicles due to the” same issue, “which has been linked to four deaths.” NHTSA has been investigating the issue since March and “said at the time it had reports of six front-end crashes with significant damage to the cars.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fiat Chrysler issues recall for 51,000 Jeep Cherokees.

The Detroit (MI) Free Press (5/21, 1.1M) reports Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for 51,000 Jeep Cherokees because of an increased risk of a fire due to potential fuel leaks. A company statement said an investigation into the matter “discovered a batch of fuel-supply tubes may have connectors that were incorrectly fitted. If so, they may leak, creating a potential fire risk.” The Free Press reports that Fiat Chrysler said it is not aware of any injuries or accidents caused by the issue.
        Cars (5/21, 931K) also reports.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Testing Automated Vehicles on the Public

Mr. Bunkley makes an excellent point about protecting the public in is blog:
Nick Bunkley wrote a blog this week about the danger that comes with testing new technology in the real world:
"Autopilot, like many similar features being developed by other automakers, has great potential. But there's a reason that other automakers don't roll out such technology without the kind of lengthy, exhaustive testing that Tesla is apparently counting on the general public to conduct. ...
"Vehicles have to be designed not only to protect their occupants, but so they don't pose an undue hazard to others on the road

Continuing coverage: Investigators, experts comment on e-cigarette safety after explosion kills Florida man.

Reuters (5/17, Szekely) reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has “taken an interest in the case” of Tallmadge D’Elia, a Florida man who died on May 5 when his vape mod exploded, according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue spokesman Lieutenant Steve Lawrence. He said by telephone on Thursday that the device’s battery was the most likely cause of the fire. He added, “We feel that the battery had the potential energy to basically turn the vape mod into a missile, and it penetrated the victim’s cranial cavity.”
        The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (5/17, Spata, 790K) reports Michael Felberbaum, a spokesman for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products “said it had identified 274 incidents of e-cigarettes overheating, causing fires or exploding between 2009 and 2017,” but these incidents are “under-reported, and they’re currently soliciting such reports at” Larry McKenna, a fire protection engineer for the U.S. Fire Administration, was paraphrased as saying this month’s death is “a rarity.” He said that when a lithium ion battery in an e-cigarette ignites, it is forced out like “a bullet, or ‘flaming rocket.’” Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said, “It’s very safe overall when you consider that millions of people use these devices. The few issues you see are when people use mech mods, unregulated devices that don’t have safety features. And in this tragic case, it appears that’s the type of device that was being used.”