Thursday, February 18, 2016

Toyota recalls RAV4 SUVs over separating seat belt.

The New York Times (2/18, Soble, Subscription Publication, 12.03M) reports that on Thursday, Toyota recalled three million RAV4 sport utility vehicles due to the possible separating of rear seat belts during crashes. The article adds that the separation of the seat belt occurred in two crashes, resulting in one death. The article adds that Toyota “said that it could not confirm whether the seat belt failure had caused the fatality, which occurred in a crash in Canada, but that it was recalling the vehicles as a precaution.”

        International Business Times (2/18, Kondalamahanty, 693K) adds that the recall includes “1.3 million vehicles in North America, along with around 625,000 vehicles in Europe, 434,000 vehicles in China, 177,000 in Japan and 307,000 in other regions.” 

NHTSA’s recognition of self-driving software as drivers raises questions about liability.

In a detailed report, the Washington Post (2/17, Fung, 8.98M) analyzes the impact the NHTSA’s decision to recognize of Google’s self-driving software as a “driver” will have on liability. The article suggests that with the car’s software as the legal “driver,” automakers “may assume greater responsibility for crashes.” The article goes on to share policymakers, insurance companies, and experts’ perspectives on the issue. The article concludes that currently, many companies and states are still in a stage where they are trying to understand the implications of NHTSA’s decision. 

Lawmakers, safety experts push for expansion of Takata airbags recall.

Detroit Bureau (2/17, Eisenstein) reports that the number of vehicles recalled due to Takata airbags could triple as “lawmakers, regulators and safety experts are pressing” to have the remaining 50 million vehicles with the airbags also recalled. The article explains that “no one is yet sure exactly what is causing some airbags using Takata inflators to misfire when triggered by a crash.” However, the article adds that if ammonium nitrate is determined as the primary cause for the misfire, all Takata airbags are a risk. According to the article, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wrote to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, “Recent events and recalls involving relatively new vehicles with these types of inflators raise serious questions as to whether Takata’s ammonium nitrate propellant is inherently dangerous.”

        Consumerist (2/17, Kieler, 66K) adds that NHTSA spokesperson Gordon Trowbridge “says the agency currently doesn’t have enough data to justify an all-encompassing recall of every Takata inflator, but didn’t put the idea out of the realm of possibility.” 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Volkswagen recalls 2011-2015 Touareg Hybrid.

The Car Connection (2/15, Add, 171K) reports that Volkswagen issued a recall of its Touareg Hybrid crossovers 2011 to 2015. The article adds that according to the NHTSA, the batteries of those vehicles could cause a fire. The article explains that the “problem stems from a design flaw that prevents water from draining out of the rear hatch area, which is where the hybrid battery sits.”

        The Automotive Fleet (2/15, 62K) adds that according to the NHTSA, “If water collects in the hybrid battery tray, it may cause an electrical short in the high voltage battery.” 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

VW Joins Takata Airbag Recall

Volkswagen is recalling 680,000 cars of its namesake brand in the United States because Takata-made airbags in them could be defective.
The recall affects models built between 2006 and 2014, a spokesman said, declining to comment on how much the recall could cost.

GM recalling nearly 500,000 trucks, SUVs for brake pedal problem.

The AP (2/9) reports that “General Motors is recalling more than 473,000 trucks and SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because the brake pedals can come loose and fail to work properly.” The AP says the “recall covers certain 2015 and 2016 Chevrolet Silverado HD, GMC Sierra HD and Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicles.” GM explains “a nut on the brake pedal pivot mechanism can come loose, causing the pedal to loosen and possibly become inoperative,” and that it has received “no reports of crashes or injuries due to the problem.”

        Consumerist (2/9, Kieler, 66K) reports that GM has yet to submit recall notices with the NHTSA. 

Takata Airbag Recalls

Hundreds of thousands of Mercedes-Benz vehicles recalled over Takata air bags.

NBC News (2/9, Johnson, 3.58M) reports Daimler AG “announced Tuesday that it was recalling 840,000 vehicles in the United States — including more than 700,000 Mercedes-Benz models — because they’re outfitted with air bags made by Takata Corp., which can explode with deadly force.” Some 705,000 Mercedes-Benzesare being recalled in addition to 136,000 Daimler vans. The recall, which Daimler AG said is “precautionary,” will reportedly cost the company close to $400 million. The US has reported 10 deaths in relation with Takata defects and some 20 million vehicles are being recalled.
        The Wall Street Journal (2/9, Steele, Subscription Publication, 6.74M) reports the move came after the company was notified by the NHTSA about the defective Takata air bags. Honda Motor Co. last week announces it was recalling 2.2 million vehicles outfitted with Takata inflators in the US. It said the recalls were expected to cost it 2.2% of its revenue this fiscal year, and is estimated at $2.6 billion.

        Coverage is also provided by USA Today (2/9, Woodyard, 5.56M), Bloomberg News (2/10, Ma, 2.92M), the AP (2/9), Reuters (2/10, Shepardson, Taylor), Detroit Bureau (2/9, Einstein), AFP (2/9), and Cars (2/9, Mays, 951K). 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Crash Avoidance Technology

Atlee Hall, partner, Jaime Jackson recently presented to a national audience gathered in Nashville on the emerging litigation topic of Crash Avoidance Technologies and Autonomous Vehicles. Crash Avoidance Technology (CAT) is now becoming widely implemented in production vehicles. Crash avoidance technologies are vehicle safety systems designed to avoid automobile crashes. Despite advances in safety and these technologies, and recent commercials during the Super Bowl, a significant number of current production vehicles lack these safety features such as Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, all of which are in some select vehicles, but not all, or are only offered as optional equipment. Safety must not be an option and such crash avoidance technologies should be standard in all production vehicles, not just for the select few who can afford it.

Continental air bag defect could affect two million US vehicles.

Cars (2/9, Mays, 951K) reports that the NHTSA has posted notices “from German auto supplier Continental that some of its airbag control units – each of which controls all the airbags in a vehicle – are susceptible to corrosion in the components that power them.” NHTSA said the units were manufactured between 2006 through 2010 and “some 5 million cars could be involved, but Continental said that’s a global total.” Continental spokeswoman Mary Arraf said the problem “potentially impacts less than 2 million vehicles” in the US. The notice listed six automakers that sold affected vehicles in the US: Honda, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Volkswagen Group and Volvo Trucks. Cars says that some, but not all, of the affected vehicles have been recalled while automakers determine which vehicles are impacted. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

NHTSA expands Fiat Chrysler roll-away inquiry.

The New York Times (2/7, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 12.03M) reports that the NHTSA “said on Saturday that they had intensified an investigation into about 856,000 Fiat Chrysler models, citing a concern that the vehicles could roll away when drivers think the automatic transmission is set on ‘park.’” The Times says 121 accidents have been tied to the issue, resulting in 30 injuries. The Times says most complaints involve Jeep Grant Cherokees and that the investigation also includes the 2012-14 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with the 3.6-liter V-6. Investigators say that an electronic gear selector system “is not intuitive and provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.” 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Microsoft recalls nearly 2.3 million Surface Pro power cords.

Reuters (2/2) reports that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced that Microsoft is recalling nearly 2.25 million AC power cords shipped with the Surface Pro tablet following 56 reports that the cords overheat and catch fire, and five reports of customers receiving electric shocks.

        The AP (2/2) adds that the recall will affect AC power cords for the Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, and Surface Pro 3 tablets sold before March 15. Microsoft will offer customers replacements cords free of cost. 

Senators call for broader recall of defective Takata airbags.

The New York Times (2/2, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 12.03M) reports that Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward Markey (D-MA) have “called on the Obama administration in a letter to force the recall of every Takata airbag that uses a propellant that contains a compound called ammonium nitrate.” The Times explains that “the letter follows the death of Joel Knight, who was killed in December when the airbag in his 2006 Ford Ranger ruptured after hitting a stray cow in South Carolina, sending metal debris into his throat.” The senators criticized the NHTSA “for not demonstrating more urgency in forcing Takata to prove that ammonium nitrate is safe to use.” The Times points out that the “agency has said that while unknowns remained surrounding the cause of the defect, complicating the recalls, if it ‘believes a vehicle presents an unreasonable risk to safety, the agency would seek a recall.’” Meanwhile, the senators “did acknowledge that the agency has recently stepped up its enforcement against Takata.” 

Volkswagen submits recall plan to US regulators.

Bloomberg Business (2/2, Hull, Plungis, 2.92M) reports that Volkswagen submitted its draft recall plan to the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board on Tuesday, covering approximately “85,000 VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles with 3-liter diesel engines.” CARB said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday, “VW has stated this plan is intended to remedy the presence of one or more defeat devices in 2009-2015 model year 3.0 liter diesel vehicles” and “agrees these devices resulted in excess emissions and other instances of noncompliance in the affected vehicles.” The EPA and CARB have said they will review the plan. Reuters (2/2, Shepardson) reports that CARB last month rejected VW’s plan to fix 482,000 2.0 liter cars for being “substantially deficient.” The company was granted permission to begin recalls in Europe last week. The AP (2/2) reports similarly. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Nissan recalls Altimas for third time to address hood latches.

The AP (1/29) reports that “Nissan is recalling nearly 930,000 Altima midsize cars worldwide — some for a third time — to fix a latch problem that could let the hood fly open while the cars are moving.”

        Reuters (1/30, Shepardson), Motor Trend (1/30, 7.13M), AutoWeek (1/30, 2.12M), the Dallas Morning News (1/30, 1.24M), the Detroit Bureau (1/30), Money (1/30, 6.87M), the Examiner (1/30, 825K), and the Leader Call (1/30, 15) also report.