Friday, May 29, 2015

Automakers release information on models affected by expanded airbag recall.

Several major news outlets, including two network evening news programs, report that automakers are releasing information about the vehicles covered by last week’s expanded recall of defective Takata airbags. Reports note that last week, the NHTSA announced that Takata agreed to double the number of airbags it recalled to nearly 34 million.
        For its part, the CBS Evening News (5/28, story 11, 0:20, Rose, 5.08M) reported that on Thursday, “more car models were added to the massive recall.”
        Reporter David Kerley said on ABC World News (5/28, story 6, 1:45, Muir, 5.84M) that on Thursday, Ford, Mitsubishi, BMW and Chrysler have released information about which vehicles “carry potentially defective bag inflators, which can rupture when deployed.” However, Kerley added that all the vehicles “affected have still not been listed.”
        The AP (5/29, Krisher) reports that carmakers, along with Canadian and US regulators, are releasing information, which indicate, which vehicles are covered by the recall. The article then goes on to list some of the vehicles that are being recalled.
        Reuters (5/29, Woodall) says that on Thursday, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Ford Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. expanded their recalls of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags.
        In a separate article, Reuters (5/29, Kim) reports that Honda is recalling roughly 350,000 vehicles in the US due to the airbags.
        USA Today (5/29, Woodyard, 5.01M) notes that on Thursday, carmakers added “millions” of vehicles “to their official lists of models recalled.” The paper reports that when the NHTSA announced the expanded recall last week, the agency indicated that “it knew the grand total” of affected vehicles, “but did not have a list of the individual models.” USA Today adds that the “task of determining the additional models was left up to automakers.”
        Edmunds (5/29, Lienert, 399K) reports the NHTSA indicated that Fiat-Chrysler is expanding its recall of vehicles with defective Takata airbags to 4.5 million.

        House panel to hold hearing on Takata recall next week. Reuters (5/29, Woodall) reports the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing next Tuesday on the Takata airbag recall. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind is expected to take part in the hearing. Takata Executive Vice President Kevin Kennedy is also expected to appear before the House panel next week. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ford recalls more than 440,000 vehicles.

ABC World News (5/27, story 15, 0:15, Muir, 5.84M) reported that Ford issued two recalls. The report said that the automaker is recalling “423,000 sedans and crossovers” due to “an electrical problem with the power steering.” It adds that Ford is also recalling almost 20,000 Mustangs, “because of problems with the fuel tank.”
        The AP (5/28) reports that the recall related to the power steering issue covers some “Ford Flex and Taurus vehicles, as well as the Lincoln MKS and MKT from the 2011 through 2013 model years.” Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ from 2011 through 2012 and certain 2011 Mercury Milans are also covered in the recall. The AP notes that in October, the NHTSA started “investigating complaints of power-steering failures on three Ford Motor Co. midsize car models.”

        USA Today (5/28, Woodyard, 5.01M) reports “19,486 2015 Ford Mustangs” equipped with the 2.3-liter engine are being recalled to “replace a heat shield around the gas tank.” 

Source: Takata now open to compromise to resolve airbag problem.

Reuters (5/28, Shirouzu) reports that a source close to Takata Corp. said that the company, which had previously resisted demands by Federal regulators to expand its airbag recall, has shifted its attitude and is more willing to compromise in order to resolve this crisis. However, the source told Reuters that automakers share the blame, and should share the costs associated with the recall. The source also indicated that Takata started contacting the DOT and the NHTSA last month, adding that those talks resulted in the recent announcement of the expanded recall.

        NHTSA, Takata officials expected to appear at congressional hearing. Detroit Bureau (5/28, Strong) reports that NHTSA officials and Takata representatives are expected to appear at a House panel hearing next week, which will focus on the Takata airbag recall. Additionally, the article notes that the NHTSA recently “filed legal paperwork” to compel Takata and the impacted automakers “to develop a plan to expedite” the recall process. However, it adds that if Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx does not approve the plan, “he can reject it and implement one of his own.” 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Toyota, Nissan, Honda expand air bag recall by 11.5 million vehicles.

The MLive (5/15, Muller, 803K) report this week Toyota, Honda, and Nissan expanded the list of vehicles recalled due to potentially faulty Takata Corp. airbags by approximately 11.5 million cars and trucks to bring the global total of recalled cars to 35 million for faulty airbags. The airbags have been linked to six deaths and over 100 injuries. MLive says NHTSA has “leveled a $14,000-per-day fine since February against Takata, which insists it is cooperating with regulators.” The article says a consortium of 10 automakers, “all affected by the massive recall, also began their own investigation,” hiring an engineering firm to test the airbag inflators and naming former NHTSA Acting Administrator David Kelly as project manager.

        The Consumer Reports (5/15, Kennedy, 193K) reported according to a statement by Nissan and the NHTSA, the “Japanese automaker is recalling 326,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada” comprised of 250,967 2004-2006 Nissan Sentras and 12,725 2004 model year Nissan Pathfinders. 

Takata agrees to double US recall for defective airbags to 34 million vehicles.

There was widespread media coverage of the Federal government’s announcement Tuesday that Takata Corp. has agreed to double a recall of potentially deadly airbags, with all three networks leading their evening newscasts with the story. Reports have highlighted the fact that the recall covers nearly 34 million vehicles, making it the largest automotive recall in US history. News sources also heavily cite comments made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind during a news conference Tuesday.
        ABC World News (5/19, lead story, 2:40, Muir, 5.84M) reported that in the wake of the announcement, the “major questions now” are: “Are there replacements even ready? And what are American drivers to do?” Foxx is later shown as saying in a press conference that “up until now, Takata has refused to acknowledge that their air bags are defective. That changes today.”
        NBC Nightly News (5/19, lead story, 2:45, Holt, 7.86M) reported that repairing all affected vehicles “may take years.” Rosekind is shown saying at Tuesday’s press conference, “It’s not enough to identify defects. To save lives and prevent injuries, defects must be repaired.”
        The CBS Evening News (5/19, lead story, 3:30, Pelley, 5.08M) reported that one out of four vehicles are covered by the recall. Foxx is later shown saying Tuesday, “Takata still has not identified the root cause of the defect, but we cannot let that delay our actions that we’re taking today.”
        In a front-page story, the New York Times (5/20, A1, Ivory, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that before yesterday’s announcement, Takata had denied that its airbags were defective. The article says that Tuesday’s announcement “indicated a shift for” the NHTSA, which has been criticized “as being too lax on the industry it oversees.” It adds that since Rosekind’s appointment as the head of the NHTSA, the “agency has shown greater assertiveness toward companies like Takata.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “From the very beginning, our goal has been simple: a safe airbag in every vehicle.” He added, “The steps we’re taking today represent significant progress toward that goal.”
        The Wall Street Journal (5/20, Spector, Nagesh, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) reports that Takata also agreed to sign a consent order, which requires the Japanese company to cooperate with the ongoing probe. Foxx is also quoted as saying, “It’s fair to say this is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.” He added, “This is a monumental effort, there is no doubt about it.”
        In a front-page story, the Washington Post (5/19, Harwell, 5.03M) notes that Takata airbags have been “linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.” The article describes the expanded recall as a “victory for NHTSA.” The Post adds that Foxx called the action “a major step forward for public safety.” Foxx added, “We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”
        Similarly, the Los Angeles Times (5/20, Hirsch, Puzzanghera, 4.03M) says that yesterday’s announcement “marks a victory for” the NHTSA, which has urged Takata take “such action since last fall.” The report adds that the “announcement reverberated through the auto industry, which has come under increasingly harsh scrutiny” from Federal regulators.
        USA Today (5/19, Woodyard, Spangler, 5.01M) notes that the “action expands regional recalls to make them national.”
        Reuters (5/20, Morgan, Klayman) says that in February, the NHTSA had imposed a $14,000 per-day fine on Takata for not fully cooperating with an investigation. According to the article, Rosekind said that fine has now been suspended.
        The CBS News (5/20, Miller, 8.2M) website said that yesterday’s announcement appears to “mark a turning point in Takata’s response to the controversy.” According to the article, Rosekind said at Tuesday’s press conference that the NHTSA was “already working on a unilateral plan to force an expanded recall of the airbags.” However, Rosekind “thanked Takata for its recent cooperation,” acknowledging that the company “‘stepped up’ by providing ‘defect information reports’ to government officials,” the report adds. Rosekind is quoted as saying, “We were working on a plan, Takata provided certain elements...and that, of course, gives us a more efficient and productive way to move forward.”
        Meanwhile, Bloomberg News (5/20, Green, Plungis, 3.81M) reports that the expanded recall leaves Federal regulators “with a dilemma – swap defective air bags with parts that may be no safer than the original ones, or shoulder automakers with replacing 34 million vehicles.” The article says that Rosekind favors “a fix over the junk yard.” According to the report, Rosekind “said the long-term safety of the replacement air bags hasn’t been proven,” suggesting that there is “no guarantee they won’t need to be repaired again.” Bloomberg News (5/19, Plungis, 3.81M) also has an earlier report on the story.
        Forbes (5/19, Muller, 6.84M) notes that the recall covers vehicles from 11 different automakers.
        The Hill (5/20, Laing, 533K) reports that lawmakers who have criticized Federal regulators’ “prior handling of the Takata recalls and other issues...applauded” Tuesday’s announcement.
        According to Detroit News (5/19, Shepardson, 523K), Rosekind said it could take “‘some years’ before there are enough replacement parts to fix every” affected vehicle.
        The video of Tuesday’s press conference is posted on the Bloomberg News (5/19, 3.81M) website.
        Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are the CBS News (5/20, Glor, 8.2M) website, the NBC News (5/20, 2.54M) website, Politico (5/20, Scholtes, King, 1.11M), Financial Times (5/19, Wright, Subscription Publication, 1.34M), the Fox Business (5/19, Rocco, 387K) website, the Philadelphia Inquirer (5/20, Gelles, 617K), WDIV-TV Detroit (5/20, 292K), the WJBK-TV Detroit (5/20, Asher, 170K) website, the WKMG-TV Orlando, FL (5/20, Chaiyabhat, 150K) website, and the WJZ-TV Baltimore (5/19, McCorkell, 69K) website. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

More Vehicles Recalled for Problem Takata Air Bag Inflators

The Washington Post
Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. are expanding their recalls over problem air bags made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. by another 6.5 million vehicles.
Toyota said Wednesday it was recalling nearly 5 million more vehicles globally for the air bag inflator problem. Some 637,000 of the vehicles are in the United States. In Japan, it is recalling nearly 1.4 million vehicles.
The recall affects 35 models globally, including the Corolla subcompact, RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Tundra pickup, produced from March 2003 through November 2007.
In the latest recall, front passenger and front driver-side air bag inflators can deploy abnormally, or rupture, and put a person in a crash at greater risk.
This is different from an earlier problem with Takata air bag inflators that deployed with too much force, which has affected a range of automakers including Honda Motor Co., Chrysler, BMW and Ford Motor Co. At least six people have died worldwide due to that defect.
When combined with the earlier recalls, Toyota’s Takata-related recalls have ballooned to 8.1 million vehicles.
Tokyo-based Honda, which has recalled the most vehicles because of Takata air bag problems, said it was studying the new problem and hasn’t made a decision yet about expanding its recalls.
Nissan recalled an additional 1.56 million vehicles globally for the new Takata problem, with 326,000 of them in North America, 563,000 in Europe and 288,000 in Japan.
Nissan’s Takata-related recalls have now grown to about 4 million around the world.
The latest affects the Sentra compact, Caravan van and X-Trail sport utility vehicle, made from 2004 through 2007, Nissan said. The automaker said it will test the inflators and replace them as needed.
Toyota said it will replace the problem inflators on the driver side with inflators made by Daicel Corp., another Japanese supplier.
Toyota will continue to use Takata “since we have not at this point identified parts from a different supplier that are compatible,” the company said in a statement.
Takata has not been able to keep up with demand for replacement inflators.
NHTSA, the government authority in the U.S., which oversees recall, as well as Takata and the auto industry, have been trying to pinpoint what’s causing the inflator problems.
“Toyota’s focus remains on the safety and security of our customers,” said Dino Triantafyllos, chief quality officer at Toyota Motor North America.
Takata has been fined $14,000 per day by NHTSA since Feb. 20 for allegedly dumping documents on the agency without the legally required explanation of what’s in them. The fines have reached about $1 million.
Takata has denied it is not cooperating fully with the investigation.
Even before the latest recalls, 10 automakers recalled more than 17 million cars and trucks in the U.S. and 22 million worldwide because of the Takata air bag problem. There could be as many as 30 million vehicles with Takata air bags in the U.S. alone.

The Takata air bag problems began surfacing about a decade ago. Takata uses a different kind of inflator propellant from rivals, ammonium nitrate, which can burn too fast if subjected to prolonged exposure to airborne moisture.

Nissan, Toyota expand Takata-related recall to 6.5 million more vehicles.

ABC World News (5/13, story 11, 0:20, Muir, 5.84M) briefly reported that Nissan and Toyota have expanded “that massive recall over defective air bags – 6.5 million vehicles, those air bags made by the embattled manufacturer Takata. This time, fears that the air bags will rupture in a crash.” The AP (5/14, Kageyama) reports Toyota said Wednesday that it would recall nearly five million “more vehicles globally for the air bag inflator problem.” About 637,000 are in the US. The recall “affects 35 models globally, including the Corolla subcompact, RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Tundra pickup, produced from March 2003 through November 2007.”
        USA Today (5/14, Woodyard, Healey, 5.01M) says the latest recalls “show the Takata bag problem continues to deepen.” NHTSA is fining Takata “$14,000 a day for failing to cooperate regarding its air bags in which the inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel.” Five US deaths have been “blamed on faulty Takata bags.”
        The New York Times (5/14, Tabuchi, Soble, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) says “one source of concern has been the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, a cheap but powerful explosive that engineers say can destabilize if contaminated with moisture.” The inflator itself, “and whether it corrodes over time,” has also been a concern. The Times notes that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last month that Takata “was moving too slowly and his agency was reviewing options to speed up the recalls.”
        The Los Angeles Times (5/14, 4.03M) reports that this is “different from an earlier problem with Takata air bag inflators that deployed with too much force, which has affected a range of automakers including Honda Motor Co., Chrysler, BMW and Ford Motor Co.”


NTSB investigates deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia.

Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia received widespread media coverage. The story was prominently featured on the major network evening newscasts, with all three evening news anchors reporting from Philadelphia. Coverage has largely focused on descriptions of the crash and rescue efforts, and the NTSB’s investigation. At least seven people were killed and more than 200 have been injured in the crash. Reports have heavily cited comments made by NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt, who spoke to reporters about the accident on Wednesday. News sources have also highlighted the fact that the NTSB indicated that the train was traveling about 106 miles per hour, twice the speed limit, when it entered a sharp curve at Frankford Junction where it derailed.
        David Muir on ABC World News (5/13, lead story, 5:10, Muir, 5.84M) reported that the speed limit on that curve was 10 miles per hour. In a later segment, ABC World News (5/13, story 2, 2:15, Muir, 5.84M) reporter David Kerley is shown asking Sumwalt whether speed played a role in the accident. Responding to the question, Sumwalt remarked, “Certainly the speed of the train is something that we will be looking at to determine if that was a factor in the derailment.”
        Scott Pelley noted on the CBS Evening News (5/13, lead story, 3:55, Pelley, 5.08M) that Tuesday’s accident is the “deadliest” Amtrak crash “in 16 years.” He added that it happened “on the busiest rail corridor in North America.” Later on CBS Evening News (5/13, story 2, 2:40, Pelley, 5.08M), correspondent Kris Van Cleave reported that Sumwalt said that the NTSB’s probe is “increasingly focusing on the speed of the train in the moments right before the deadly derailment.”
        The CBS Evening News (5/13, story 3, 1:20, Pelley, 5.08M) aired Pelley’s interview with Sumwalt. During the interview, Pelley asked Sumwalt if there were any signs that “there was any fault in the track itself.” Sumwalt responded, “We will be looking at the condition of the track. We’ll be looking at the traffic control signals to see what they were displaying. We’ll be looking at the mechanical condition of the train. So nothing is off the table. I’d say that everything is on the table right now.” The CBS Evening News (5/13, story 5, 2:10, Pelley, 5.08M) also reported on those who were injured in the crash.
        On NBC Nightly News (5/13, lead story, 4:30, Holt, 7.86M), reporter Tom Costelllo said that the engineer has been identified as Brandon Bostian. In an interview with Costello, Sumwalt confirmed that Bostian was traveling 106 miles an hour when turning into the curve at Frankford Junction. Sumwalt added, “Shortly after he entered the curve, he placed train into – basically, put the emergency brakes on the train.”
        In a front-page story, the New York Times (5/14, A1, Stolberg, Mouawad, Fitzsimmons, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that investigators have said it is too early to determine “whether the speed alone caused” the accident, adding that they plan to “examine other factors, such as track conditions, throttle and brake settings and alarms in the engineer’s cab.” According to the article, investigators are planning to review the “video from a forward-facing camera mounted on the locomotive,” and interview crew members, including the engineer. Sumwalt is quoted as saying, “As we know, it takes a long time to decelerate a train.” He added, “You’re supposed to enter the curve at 50 miles per hour. He was already in the curve.”
        According to the AP (5/14, Mulvihill), Sumwalt said that the train’s engineer “applied the emergency brakes moments before the crash but slowed the train to only 102 mph by the time the locomotive’s black box stopped recording data.” The article adds that Sumwalt indicated that the “speed limit just before the bend is 80 mph.” Additionally, the AP notes that according to the FRA, Amtrak inspected the section of the track where the accident occurred “just hours before the accident, and found no defects.”
        In a separate article, the AP (5/13) reports that investigators “recovered the train’s data recorders and said they expected them to yield crucial information.” Sumwalt is quoted as saying Wednesday, “There are many first responders out there. They are working. They are examining the equipment, seeing if there are any more people in the rail cars.” The AP (5/14, Gillum, Bridis) also covers the story in another article.
        The Hill (5/13, Hensch, 533K) reports Sumwalt described the crash scene “devastating” and said investigators had started “sifting through the wreckage.” According to the article, Sumwalt said the NTSB investigators’ “initial investigation was crucial for establishing the best framework of Tuesday’s events.”
        In a separate article, The Hill (5/14, Hensch, 533K) “Blog Briefing Room” blog reports that on Wednesday, President Obama said the accident was “a tragedy that touches us all.” The Hill (5/13, Hensch, 533K) also covers the crash investigation in another report.
        USA Today (5/14, Frank, 5.01M) says that NTSB investigators will examine “everything from the crew’s medical history and pre-crash cellphone use to the functioning of warning signals along the tracks.” It adds that the NTSB is “likely to act quickly in reconstructing the events leading up” to Tuesday’s accident.
        The Wall Street Journal (5/14, Mann, Tangel, Maher, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) reports that officials said that about 200 police officers and more than 120 firefighters responded to the crash. The article notes that the accident disrupted Amtrak service for much of the Northeast Corridor.
        Meanwhile, CNN (5/14, 3.17M) reports online that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter criticized the train’s engineer, Brandon Bostian. In an interview with CNN, Nutter described Bostian’s actions as “reckless.” Nutter remarked that “there’s really no excuse that can be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack.” The article notes that “Sumwalt immediately slammed” Nutters’ “comments as inflammatory.” Sumwalt is quoted as saying, “You’re not going to hear the NTSB making comments like that.” He added, “We want to get the facts before we start making judgments.”
        Train engineer declines to give statement to police. The Hill (5/14, Hensch, 533K) reports in its “Blog Briefing Room” blog that the train’s engineer “reportedly refused on Wednesday to provide a statement to police.”
        NBC News (5/14, 2.54M) reports online that Robert Goggin, the attorney representing Brandon Bostian, the train engineer, said that his client doesn’t “remember exactly what happened when” the train hit the curve and derailed. According to the article, Goggin said Bostian was injured in the accident and had “14 staples placed in his head and suffered a knee injury.”
        The New York Daily News (5/14, Paddock, Smith, McShane, 3.79M) also covers the story.
        PTC could have prevented crash. The Washington Post (5/14, Zauzmer, Halsey, Shapiro, 5.03M) reports that while technology, known as positive train control (PTC), “is in place in much of the Northeast Corridor,” Amtrak did not install it on the stretch of track where the crash occurred. NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt is quoted as saying, “Had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”
        Similarly, the New York Times (5/14, A17, Mouawad, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) quotes Sumwalt as saying, “We feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.” The article notes that this is “not the first time” that the NTSB has emphasized the importance of PTC, “which it views as one of the top 10 transportation safety issues in the country this year.”
        On NBC Nightly News (5/13, story 2, 2:00, Holt, 7.86M), Deborah Hersman, National Safety Council President and CEO and former NTSB Chairman, is shown saying that Tuesday’s Amtrak accident is “exactly the type of incident that PTC is designed to prevent.”
        NBC News (5/14, Johnson, Costello, Esposito, McClam, 2.54M) reports online that Amtrak is “required by law to implement” PTC “by the end of the year.” The article notes that the NTSB has “lobbied vigorously for PTC since 1970, declaring it one of the agency’s top priorities.” However, it notes that some Federal lawmakers have sought to delay the PTC deadline “until at least 2020 at the behest of railroads” that have requestion for additional time.
        Amtrak accident rate again climbing after decades of decline. NBC News (5/13, Chemi, 2.54M) reports on its website that while “accident rates have been decreasing” in recent decades, “several deadly incidents in recent years have regulators and the public concerned for passengers’ safety.” NBC notes that Amtrak had a “below-average crash rate” in 2012, but the annual rate has steadily grown since, and “are now worse than the national average for all trains and all commuter trains.” There were 18 Amtrak accidents in January and February of this year.
        The Washington Post (5/14, Berman, 5.03M) says Amtrak trains derail “every so often, but not as frequently” as in the past. The FRA says there have been about 31 derailments per year over the past decade, “significantly down from the 54 derailments that occurred per year over the decade before.” But “the number of passengers injured on Amtrak trains has risen in recent years.” USA Today (5/14, Jansen, Frank, 5.01M) says Amtrak passenger deaths “are extremely rare,” with just 158 fatalities in the past 40 years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another 6.5 million Toyotas, Nissans recalled for Takata air bag problems.

The AP (5/13, Kageyama) reports Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. are “expanding their recalls over problem air bags” made by Takata Corp. by another 6.5 million vehicles. The AP says on Wednesday Toyota indicated that it was recalling almost five million more vehicles globally for the air bag problem and 637,000 of the vehicles are in the US and almost 1.4 million in Japan. The article says Takata has been “fined $14,000 per day by NHTSA since Feb. 20 for allegedly dumping documents on the agency without the legally required explanation of what’s in them.” The AP says the NHTSA fines have reached almost $1 million but “Takata has denied it is not cooperating fully with the investigation.” 

Jeep Cherokee Airbag Recall

Fiat Chrysler adds nearly 69,000 Jeep Cherokees to side air bag recall over software problem. The AP<>(5/12) reports Fiat Chrysler is adding almost 69,000 Jeep Cherokees to a “recall to fix software that can cause side air bags to inflate without a crash.” The AP said that the additional numbers brings the total of 2014 and 2015 Cherokees under the February recall to almost 317,000. Of those, 265,000 are in the US, Canada or Mexico.

        The Detroit News<> (5/12, Shepardson, 523K) reports Fiat Chrysler said it “updated the software in 2015 and 2016 vehicles in a production change in November 2014 to address air bag deployment issues without recalling the vehicles.” The News says Fiat Chrysler told the NHTSA last week it was expanding the US recall because it had “inadvertently omitted 62,000 vehicles.”

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pennsylvania Lawyers Helping Pennsylvania Farmers in Litigation over Genetically Modified Corn and Seeking to Recover Market Losses

The law firm of Atlee Hall is assisting Pennsylvania farmers in lawsuits against agribusiness giant Syngenta seeking to recover damages to the US corn market from Syngenta’s introduction of genetically modified corn, which has caused major countries to reject US corn.  This has caused the price of US corn to drop roughly 25% or more, resulting in damages to farmers and others in the stream of corn sales. 

Syngenta, the Swiss based maker of seeds and agricultural chemicals, is facing responsibility and accountability tied to its Agrisure Viptera strain of GMO corn.  Syngenta sold Agrisure Viptera (MIR162) to US farmers without first obtaining import approval from China.  China no longer accepts corn from the United States, thus causing millions of dollars in damages to US farmers.

The lawyers at Atlee Hall are seeking to recover market losses on behalf of Pennsylvania farmers against Syngenta as a result of the drop in corn prices due to China’s rejection of US corn shipments because of the GMO corn introduced by Syngenta. 

We welcome the opportunity to further discuss this GMO corn dispute process with you.  You may contact any of the following:  Jaime Jackson at; Mark Atlee at or you can call our office at 800-924-2309.

Who owns vehicle-generated data?

Interesting Article by Keith Crain at the Automotive News:
As more companies develop and test autonomous vehicles, we'll have to sort out how to handle the inevitable malfunctions and crashes that come with adopting any new technology.
Regardless of how well planned and thought-out, new technology is bound to create challenges.
The courts may believe they have decided who owns the information that today's automobiles generate, but I doubt that it's a closed book.
Every new car has a small but important black box on board. In the few seconds before a vehicle crash, the box will have recorded a lot of very important information. Were the brakes applied? What was the angle of the steering wheel? Did the airbags deploy?
Such information would be very valuable in any lawsuit that tries to determine responsibility. To me, it seems obvious that the vehicle owner should be the rightful owner of any and all information from the black box.
Yet the courts are full of lawyers fighting over that information.
So if a future collision involves a driverless vehicle, it's bound to become even harder to determine what went wrong and assign fault if no human was driving.
Will parts suppliers be held responsible? Or only vehicle manufacturers? Does an owner have a responsibility to stay in control even if he or she put the vehicle on autopilot?
The lawyers will have a heyday fighting over this one.
It may all seem far off, but Daimler AG's Daimler Trucks division has begun testing autonomous heavy-duty trucks on public roads in Nevada.
Running big trucks on open highways is a logical start to testing driverless vehicles. Driving in relatively light traffic on a Nevada highway makes for safer testing than in heavier traffic in a major urban system.
As the automobile continues as a platform for more complicated vehicles, it will be fascinating to see how the legal system allocates ownership of the data generated.
And we haven't even scratched the surface of autonomous vehicles. Brace for more complexity.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

NHTSA launches recall query after complaints about previously recalled SUVs.

The Washington Post (5/6, Read, 5.03M) reports the NHTSA has received eight complaints about Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos vanity mirrors or headliners catching fire, despite Chrysler’s 2014 recall for these problems in 2011-2014 models of the SUVs. Some occupants complained of “smoke sometimes followed by flames erupting in the headliner.” The Post reports that the NHTSA has launched a “recall query” to examine whether Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ solution for the recalled vehicles or why it may have created new problems.
        Reuters (5/6) adds that more than 900,000 vehicles in the US alone were recalled last year and explains how the vanity light wiring was rerouted in sun visors to address the fire hazards in the recalled vehicles

Dangers of Self-Driving Vehicles

Driverless vehicles are no longer science fiction. They’re a reality that could hit the road in the next few years and become a standard feature in all vehicles by the middle of the century.
The appeal of self-driving cars is evident. They will improve the mobility of those who don’t (or can’t) currently drive, and they could minimize emissions thanks to reduced congestion. But there are also some unexpected dangers that could arise.
Driverless Cars Could Make Roads More Dangerous
Here are a few dangers of self-driving vehicles that you may not have thought of:
Road safety will worsen before getting better.
When both conventional vehicles and SDVs share the road during the transitional period to SDVs only, the risk of accidents for conventional vehicles could be elevated, according to an earlier study conducted by Sivak and Schoettle. They found that SDVs may not be able to avoid crashes that aren’t caused by drivers. It’s still hard to know exactly how long self-driving vehicles and conventional vehicles will share the road during the technological transition.
Hackers could highjack self-driving vehicles and control them remotely.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NHTSA probes Jeep, Dodge over sun visor fires.

The New York Times (5/5, B3, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating a Jeep and Dodge sun visor recall last year affecting 895,000 vehicles after the NHTSA “received eight reports of fires in vehicles whose electrical wiring had been repaired in a recall started by Fiat Chrysler in July, according to a statement on its website.” One Jeep owner reported the fire from the sun visor spread throughout his vehicle. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ford, under pressure from NHTSA, expands door handle recall.

The Detroit News (5/2, Shepardson, 523K) reports that Ford Motor Co., under pressure from the NHTSA, said Friday it will expand an existing recall for door latch issues for 156,000 additional vehicles, including Ford Fiesta vehicles manufactured in 2011. Since 2014, Ford has issued five recalls covering more than 1.55 million vehicles for door latch glitches. The News says a discussion between NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and Ford officials led to the expanded recall now totaling 390,000 vehicles. The story says Rosekind is meeting this week with Ford CEO Mark Fields and other top executives with Detroit’s Big Three automakers. “I want to have direct communication. If there are issues, I want to be able to call them or they can call me — that just doing this through headlines for example or reading a press release is not the way for us to talk about a recall issue or a defect,” Rosekind said.