Monday, April 10, 2017

Hyundai, Kia recall 1.4 million vehicles over manufacturing errors in engine.

The AP (4/7, Krisher) reports Hyundai and Kia announced the recall of “1.4 million cars and SUVs in the U.S., Canada and South Korea because the engines can fail and stall, increasing the risk of a crash.” Documents posted by NHTSA Friday describe debris left over from manufacturing obstructing the flow of oil into the rod bearings, raising the local temperature to the point where the bearings start to break down, causing engine knocking that gets worse as speed increases. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tesla crash raises questions about legal liability.

USA Today (4/3, Cassidy, 5.28M) reports that a collision last week involving a Tesla Model X in Autopilot mode “opens the door to questions in the emerging and still-murky legal realm of automated and driver-assisted vehicles.” The article notes that according to the NHTSA and Society of Automotive Engineers, there are six levels of driving automation. According to University of South Carolina Law Professor Bryant Walker Smith, “Anything that’s below level three, it’s clearly a human that’s supposed to be doing part of the driving.” Arizona DOT Director for Policy Kevin Biesty “said more of the driving regulations ... could shift from driver to car, and therefore from state to federal government.” 

Monday, April 3, 2017

One-quarter of vehicles have been recalled but not fixed.

The Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette (4/3, Sabatini, 493K) reports Carfax said the number of cars that have been recalled but remain unfixed increased 34 percent in the last year to 63 million. The Post-Gazette reports the figure accounts for one in every four vehicles, an increase of the “typical average” of one out of every five recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, “Automakers are finding and sending us recalls at a rate we haven’t seen before,” and the agency “sympathizes with frustrated owners” who are sometimes not able to bring a car in for repairs due to a parts shortage. 

Ford recalls 53,000 trucks over roll-away risk.

The AP (4/1) reports on Ford’s recall of 53,000 F-250 trucks from the 2017 model year “because they can roll away even when they are parked due to a manufacturing error.” Reuters (4/1) also reports.
        USA Today (4/2, 5.28M) reports in continuing coverage that Ford is recalling “52,000 F-250 trucks over concerns the vehicles could move while in park” due to “a damaged park rod actuating plate.”
        ABC World News Tonight (4/2, story 13, 0:20, Llamas, 14.63M) briefly mentioned the recall during its nightly broadcast, warning owners to “use the break at all times when shifting into park.”

        Money (4/2, 3.92M) also provides coverage. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Uber suspends autonomous vehicle tests after test vehicle involved in Arizona crash.

Uber announced Saturday it is suspending its autonomous vehicle testing in Arizona after one of its Volvo XC90s in self-driving mode was involved in an accident in Tempe on Friday. The announcement received wide national attention, with two network broadcasts, several print dailies, wires, and local outlets providing coverage. Although no one was seriously injured and there were no customers in the Volvo, the incident raises bigger questions about the integration of autonomous vehicles on public roads.
        ABC World News Tonight (3/25, story 12, 0:20, Llamas, 14.63M) broadcast “the test SUV” ended up “on its side” after another “car hit it after failing to yield to the vehicle.” The CBS Weekend News (3/25, story 7, 0:15, Ninan) broadcast the car being operated by a human “sideswiped the automated car after an illegal left turn.” Reuters (3/25, Cherelus) reports there were two vehicle “safety” drivers in the front seats of the Volvo, the Uber “standard requirement” in all its autonomous vehicle tests.
        The New York Times (3/25, Isaac, Subscription Publication, 13.9M) reports Uber spokesperson Chelsea Kohler said “We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no back-seat passengers in the vehicle.” In the meantime, “she said Uber had also suspended testing in Pittsburgh and San Francisco for the day” on Saturday, “and possibly longer.” The Times points out that Friday’s incident “comes at a difficult time for Uber,” which has jumped from regulatory show-downs to crisis management over the past few months – its dispute with state regulators over California testing, the Waymo lawsuit, Uber’s Greyball program, the video of CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with a driver, and sexual harassment allegations from former employees.
        The Washington Post (3/25, Overly, 11.43M) reports “the accident once again raises questions about the safety of autonomous driving technology and how it will interact with other drivers on the road.” In spite of the fact that “automobile and technology companies alike are dumping billions of dollars into the technology with the idea that one day our cars will no longer need human pilots,” Friday’s accident shows “that future is still far off.” The regulatory environment is also unstable, but from NHTSA to Congress to state legislatures around the country the “push and pull between freewheeling innovation and regulatory oversight that many new technologies endure” is unfolding. Part of that discussion involves the “debate about public tolerance for injuries and deaths as a result of self-driving cars.”

        The Wall Street Journal (3/25, Bensinger, Subscription Publication, 6.37M) puts the accident in context of Uber’s wider strategy, the race against companies like Waymo, which has logged more test hours on its self-driving cars than any other company, to develop reliably autonomous vehicles. Uber depends on the development of autonomous vehicles to reduce labor costs from its drivers. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Automakers recalled 53.2 million vehicles in 2016, NHTSA says.

Auto Rental News (3/22) reports automakers recalled 53.2 million vehicles in the US during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With a total of 927 recalls last year, there was “an average of 2.5 recalls per day and 145,753 vehicles affected daily.” 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Nissan recalls more than 54,000 cars because airbags can deploy when door slams.

The AP (3/11) reports on a recall of “more than 54,000 cars” by Nissan in North America “because of curtain and seat-mounted air bags that may unexpected deploy when the door is slammed.” The company says the defect affects Versas from 2012 and “may be caused by the degradation of the side impact sensor connector pins.”