Thursday, November 5, 2015

Honda recall targets 145,000 motorcycles.

The AP (11/4) reports that Honda” is recalling over 145,000 motorcycles in the US to fix dragging rear brakes that can cause a fire or crash.” The NHTSA posted documents showing it’s the third recall for some of the motorcycles. 

Mercedes issues recall over airbag issue.

The AP (11/4) reports that Mercedes has issued a recall affecting more than 126,000 cars and SUVs in the US due to an issue that can cause its air bags to inflate without a crash. “The recall covers the C-300, C-350, and C-63 models from 2008 and 2009, and the GLK-350 4-Matic from 2010,” the article reports. In documents filed with the NHTSA Mercedes says no warning would be provided to the driver in the event of unintended deployment. Dealerships will replace defective units.

        The story was also covered by the New York Times (11/4, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 11.64M). 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice
The New York Times
“On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.”

Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”
        Honda to stop using Takata airbag inflators in new models. In a front-page story, the New York Times (11/4, A1, Tabuchi, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 11.64M) reports that on Tuesday, Honda announced that it was dropping “Takata as its airbag supplier,” saying that the manufacturer had “misrepresented and manipulated test data.” According to the article, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx “also said that Takata manipulated the test data.” The NHTSA is quoted as saying in its consent order that in several cases, “Takata produced testing reports that contained selective, incomplete, or inaccurate data.” Honda announced that it would not use front driver or passenger Takata airbag inflators in new vehicles under development.

        According to the Los Angeles Times (11/4, Puzzanghera, 3.6M), Honda said that “it is working with other suppliers to replace Takata inflators” already in its vehicles. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Takata Corp. was hit Tuesday with $200 million in civil penalties — the largest imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — of which it will pay $70 million as a part of a settlement over a defect in the Japanese auto parts maker's air bag inflator linked to eight deaths and the injuries of some 100 drivers and passengers. 

New recalls raise questions for Takata.

The New York Times (11/2, Ivory, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 11.64M) reports the recalls for Takata airbags continue to widen. “Two automakers have recently announced recalls for 2015 and 2016 models,” the article reports, including Honda. The recall “came on the heels of a General Motors recall for 400 cars from the 2015 model year, initiated after side airbags failed in tests” only weeks after “regulators asked Volkswagen to provide information about the rupture of a Takata-made side airbag in a Tiguan from the 2015 model year,” the article adds. NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said that the ruptures in newer-model vehicles “may be linked to manufacturing weakness in the inflater housing, rather than the degradation of propellant exposed to prolonged heat and humidity.” He added that the NHTSA had “included all Takata-made inflaters using ammonium nitrate propellant within the scope of its investigation in order to ensure that every American has safe airbags in their vehicle.” 

Volkswagen emissions investigation expands to Audi, Porsche models.

News broke on Monday that US regulators have charged that a six-cylinder Volkswagen diesel used in a number of vehicles also contain an emissions cheating software. A major theme is the impact on the new Volkswagen CEO could find himself in trouble, as he comes from Porsche, whose vehicles are implicated on the new charges.
        In a video segment, Bloomberg News (11/2, 3.4M) reports that US regulators have expanded their probe of the Volkswagen emissions scandal to include more models from Audi along with diesels from Porsche. International Business Times (11/3, Berger, 624K) reports US regulators issued a Clean Air Act violation notice on Monday that “applies to roughly 10,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the U.S. since model year 2014, as well as an unknown number of 2016 models.” In a letter posted on its website, the EPA “said it has determined that certain Audi, Porsche and VW models with 3.0 liter engines were rigged to pass pollution tests.” Mashable (11/2, Jaynes, 1.8M) reports that the California Air Resources Board also served VW group with a violation notice for its 3.0-liter V6 TDI diesel engines. The engine is used in a number of VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles for model years 2014-16.
        CBS News (11/3, 4.1M) reports that the EPA said on Monday that the software on the engines “has a timer that turns on pollution controls when testing begins, including fuel injection timing, exhaust gas recirculation rate and fuel injection pressure.” The Wall Street Journal (11/3, Spector, Subscription Publication, 6.23M) reports that the EPA’s Cynthia Giles said in a conference call, “VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans.”
        The Los Angeles Times (11/2, Masunaga, 3.6M) reports that Volkswagen “replaced Winterkorn with Matthias Mueller, 62, the top manager of its Porsche subsidiary, making the inclusion of the Porsche Cayenne among the list all the more notable.” Bloomberg News (11/3, Welch, 3.4M) reports that Mueller’s appointment in September “was meant to signal a clean break from the group that oversaw the engineers who cheated and to usher in greater accountability.” But that “may be short-lived” with the new charges.
        Bloomberg News (11/2, Plungis, 3.4M) reports that unlike the original charges, Volkswagen has denied the new claim. The company said in an email, “VW stresses that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel engines to change emission results in an inadmissible way. Volkswagen will fully cooperate with the EPA to clarify the matter unreservedly.” The New York Times (11/3, Mouawad, Subscription Publication, 11.64M) reports that Volkswagen “pledged in a short statement that it would cooperate with the E.P.A. ‘to clarify the matter in its entirety.’”
        A number of other news outlets covered the news, including Road and Track (11/3, Sorokanich, 4.37M), Reuters (11/2), CNBC (11/3, 2.08M), USA Today (11/3, Bomey, Woodyard, 5.56M), ABC News (11/3, 3.35M) and the AP (11/2). 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Study finds self-driving cars in more accidents.

USA Today (10/31, Woodyard, 5.56M) reported online that a University of Michigan study found that self-driving cars are involved in accidents at five times the rate of conventional cars. The article notes that the number of accidents for self-driving cars is extremely small, and that the study’s authors acknowledge that “their confidence levels could invalidate the overall finding.” The article also notes that the self-driving cars were never at fault for the accidents

Some 2016 CR-Vs recalled due to new Takata airbag flaw.

Bloomberg Business (10/31, 3.4M) reports that Honda is recalling 515 2016 CR-Vs because of a new defect in airbags created by Takata Corp. Takata has been under investigation from the NHTSA for airbag defects that have killed at least 8 people.
        The AP (11/1) reports that the problem is with the housing of airbag which could cause the bag inflator to rupture and “send metal fragments flying.”

        Bloomberg News (10/31, Plungis, 3.4M) reports that the NHTSA is considering using “its legal authority to compel manufacturers to speed up recall-related repairs, or get parts to vehicles at most risk more quickly” as part of its reaction the larger recall. 

NYTimes analysis: Forced arbitration becoming more prevalent.

The New York Times (11/1, A1, Silver-Greenberg, Gebeloff, Subscription Publication, 11.64M) reports on “a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations.” By “inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.” The Times notes that “over the last few years, it has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration,” as well as “getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home.” According to the Times, “some state judges have called the class-action bans a ‘get out of jail free’ card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources.”
        Forced arbitration seen favoring corporations. The New York Times (11/2, A1, Silver-Greenberg, Corkery, Subscription Publication, 11.64M) reports that Deborah L. Pierce, an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, “was optimistic when she brought a sex discrimination claim against the medical group that had dismissed her,” but “she began to worry, though, once she was blocked from court and forced into private arbitration,” where a corporate attorney who also handled arbitrations ultimately ruled against her. An investigation by the Times found that arbitration “often bears little resemblance to court,” and that “over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country – from big corporations to storefront shops – have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice.” Under arbitration, “rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found.”