Tuesday, March 31, 2015

GM death toll increases to 77.

In continuing coverage of GM’s faulty ignition switch defect, the AP (3/31) reports that GM’s retained compensation expert, Kenneth Feinberg, has increased the death toll from the defect from 74 to 77. The AP reports that Feinberg also approved injury claims from 141 new claimants. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ford Recalls

Ford announces three recalls in North America.
USA Today (3/25, Healey, 4.95M) reports on Wednesday Ford Motor announced “three separate recalls that total about 221,000 North American trucks and SUVs – nearly all in the U.S.” Included are Ford Explorer SUVs, Ford Police Interceptor Unity vehicles, Lincoln MKT limousines, and several ambulance vehicles. It reports that Ford “says it knows of no accidents or injuries as a result of the faults, but has cataloged two underhood fires.”
        The International Business Times (3/26, Young, 1.19M) reports that the problems involve interior door handles, exhaust gas temperature sensors, and a “faulty vacuum pump relay that could result in a fire beneath the hood.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lawsuit over child’s death in recalled Jeep might spark another recall.

Bloomberg News (3/24, Larson, Fisk, 2.94M) reports in a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat-Chrysler involving a rear-end crash of 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that burned to death a four-year boy in Georgia. The story says a preliminary finding by NHTSA “sought a mandatory recall of 2.7 million Jeeps whose tanks were located less than a foot from the back bumper.” Bloomberg News says at the time NHTSA indicated that by “locating the gasoline tank between the axle and the bumper, rather than in front of the axle, the company made the vehicles less safe.” The story adds Fiat-Chrysler “voluntarily added tow hitches to about 1.5 million vehicles” and NHTSA accepted the automaker’s fix and closed the investigation. Bloomberg News adds that Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the advocacy group Center for Auto Safety, said he would “use any verdict against the company in court to try to force NHTSA to reopen the investigation or expand the recall.”

        The Detroit News (3/24, Shepardson, 577K) reports that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of the Jeep SUVs recalled. However, the story notes that NHTSA indicated that the Jeeps “were among the few vehicles on the roads with gas tanks in the rear of the vehicles.” NHTSA also criticized Chrysler for the “slow pace of fixes” and has acknowledged that the tow hitch solution “will not offer much protection in high-speed crashes.” 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Graco fined $10 million by NHTSA for delay in recall of defective child seats.

The New York Times (3/21, B3, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) cites the National Highway Safety Administration as saying Friday that Graco Children’s Products agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims it had failed “to recall promptly about four million child car seats with a defective buckle that could make it difficult to free a child in an emergency.” Graco will “pay a $3 million fine and spend $7 million developing safety programs,” the Times reports. The company said in a statement that it had “evaluated the issue in a timely manner,” but in its consent agreement with NHTSA acknowledged that “it did not provide the required notice” to the agency. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe ... and that when there’s a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly.”
        Bloomberg News (3/20, 2.94M) adds that Foxx said Friday’s action “reinforces that responsibility in a way that will make our kids safer for decades to come.”
        Reuters (3/21) notes that Graco’s agreement with NHTSA effectively closes the DOT’s investigation of the car seats that got stuck in the latch position, which regulators said might put children at risk in an emergency.
        According to The Hill (3/21, Laing, 224K), Foxx said it was “important for federal regulators to send a message about the importance of auto safety, especially when the youngest passengers are involved.” NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind “said the fine shows the transportation department is serious about safety.”
        The Wall Street Journal (3/21, Beilfuss, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) notes that NHTSA claimed Graco had been aware of consumer complaints regarding the buckles as early as 2009.
        The settlement is covered widely in a number of sources, including: CBS News (3/21, 8.2M), CNBC (3/20, 2.42M), CNN Money (3/20, 1.76M), MarketWatch (3/21, 962K), the AP (3/20), the Kansas City (MO) Star (3/21, 637K), WRC-TV Washington (3/21, 613K), WLS-TV Chicago (3/21, 6K), KGMB-TV Honolulu (3/21, 63K), KRMG-AM Tulsa, OK (3/20, 1K), WWJ-TV Detroit (3/20, 34K), WDIV-TV Detroit (3/21, 219K), and WSB-TV Atlanta 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Approved death claims in GM ignition switch fund increase.

The Detroit News (3/16, Shepardson, 577K) reports General Motors “ignition switch compensation fund on Monday said it has approved three new death claims” associated with its “delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles.” The latest tally of approved death claims stands at 67, and five new accepted claims for injuries puts that injury number cases at 113 approved thus far. The News says a surge in death and injury claims before the Jan. 31 deadline means the program will likely go into the “very late spring” before it can rule on all the claims, head compensation lawyer Ken Feinberg said last month. The story adds that GM has set aside “$400 million to pay claims but said it could be as high as $600 million.” 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Chrysler recalls more than 700,000 vehicles for ignition-switch problems.

Bloomberg News (3/8, Plungis, 2.94M) reports on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s “second recall of 703,000 minivans and SUVs with a defective ignition switch that can rotate out of position,” a problem that is reminiscent of “the faulty General Motors Co. part tied to dozens of deaths.” NHTSA announced Friday that the recall affects several models from the 2008-2010 years. 

Fiat Chrysler recalls 703,000 vehicles to fix ignition switches

The recall covers Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country minivans from 2008 to 2010 model years and Dodge Journey SUVs from 2009 to 2010.
The automaker is advising customers to remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key, until the switches can be fixed. If there is a key fob, it should also be removed, Fiat Chrysler said in documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The company said road conditions or a jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move into the off or accessory position, turning off the engine and disabling the air bags, power steering and power brakes.
Fiat Chrysler said it expects to begin replacing the defective ignition switches for the 2008-2009 minivans and SUVs in April and the 2010 vehicles in August.
Some of the vehicles had previously been recalled for the same issue.
General Motors experienced a similar ignition switch problem and recalled 2.6 million small cars last year. At least 57 people were killed and more than 90 injured in crashes linked to the defective GM switches.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NHTSA report says GM, Honda recalls are biggest in history.

USA Today (3/3, Healey, 10.32M) reports that “two of the biggest auto recalls in history took place last year” according to the NHTSA summary of recall activity, referencing GM’s 5.8 million vehicle recall for faulty ignition switches and Honda’s 5.39 million vehicle recall for defective airbags. Fifty-seven deaths are linked to the GM defect thus so far, and could rise as more claims are evaluated, while the Honda defect is linked to five deaths. The GM recall “provoked federal fins, lawsuits, government investigations, an embarrassingly candid internal probe at the automaker, Senate and House subcommittee hearings and an overhaul of how GM regards safety concerns.” The AP (3/3) reports that the two recalls make up “more than half of the record 64 million vehicles recalled last year.” 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chrysler recalls 467,000 Jeep, Durango SUVs to repair fuel pump.

According to the Los Angeles Times (2/28, Panzar, 3.49M), Chrysler Group recalled approximately 467,480 SUVs around the world “to repair a problematic fuel pump relay that may cause the vehicles to stall or not start.” The article notes, vehicle models include “2012 and 2013 Dodge Durango SUVs and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines.” According to the article, the Chrysler Groups stated the recall affects “338,216 vehicles in the U.S., 18,991 in Canada, 10,829 in Mexico and 99,444 outside the NAFTA region.” A report earlier this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that “a record 63.9 million vehicles in the U.S. last year.”
        The Wall Street Journal (2/28, Chen, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) also reports on the recall, adding that FCA US LLC, a subsidiary of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, voluntarily recalled the cars and is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the recalled part at this time.

        The AP (2/28, Krisher) reports, “dealers will install a new relay circuit,” and Chrysler will notify customers about “when they can schedule service.”