Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Audi issues recalls over fuel-line leaks.

The AP (12/19) reports, “Audi is recalling more than 52,000 luxury cars in the U.S. and Canada to fix fuel lines that can leak and increase the risk of a fire.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted documents on Tuesday that said the affect vehicles were built from January 25, 2011 to Sept. 13, 2013. The recall includes the A6 and A7 with model year 2012, 2013, and 2014. The company did not report any fires or injuries related to the recall.
        MLive (MI) (12/19, 912K) reports that NHTSA documents stated, “The fuel line was designed with a compression point to assist in installation. Due to manufacturing tolerance issues, this part of the fuel line may weaken and leak over time.” Audi said it will start notifying owners on February 5, 2018. MLive states, “Affected owners are advised to look out for a fuel odor when the fuel line’s compression point begins to weaken.” The NHTSA said the issue first started being discussed in June of 2014.

        The Automotive Fleet (12/19, 62K) reports that “to address the problem, Audi dealers will replace the fuel line at no charge to the customer.” 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pennsylvania jury orders Bayer, J&J to pay $27.8 million in damages for Xarelto.

Reuters (12/5, Lin) reports a Pennsylvania jury in Philadelphia ordered Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson to pay $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $26 million in punitive damages for Xarelto to Lynn Hartman and her husband. Hartman claims that she was hospitalized with severe gastrointestinal bleeding in June 2014, because she had taken Xarelto for about a year.

        Bloomberg News (12/5, Feeley, Fisk, 3.74M) reports that the two companies have previously won three federal lawsuits concerning Xarelto, but they “still face more than 21,000” lawsuits over the drug, “which has been linked to at least 370 deaths.” 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ford to repair Explorers over carbon monoxide issue.

The CBS Evening News (11/15, Story 9, 2:10, Mason, 11.17M) broadcast a video featuring CBS transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave and an interview with Steve Simmons, who was diagnosed with carbon dioxide poisoning after driving his Ford Explorer for sixteen days. Van Cleave said that Simmons “is one of nearly 1,300 people who have now filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Administration about exhaust.” Van Cleave said Ford “has known about the problem since at least 2012 and recorded more than 2,000 additional complaints as of last August.” Van Cleave further states that “NHTSA has been investigating for over a year but says it’s found no evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

        CBS News (11/15, 4.42M) reports that Ford is offering to make repairs on the Explorer “models from 2011 to 2017,” as “1.3 million owners of the popular SUV will begin receiving notices today.” CBS News states that “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating at least 1.3 million 2011-2017 Explorers based on reports of exhaust, which contains carbon monoxide, seeping into the passenger cabin.” NHTSA said that Ford’s actions do “not bring closure to the issue.” 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Carmakers struggle with hacking fears for self-driving cars.

The Detroit (MI) News (11/15, Laing, 725K) reports on the efforts of carmakers to mitigate concerns about hacking as they develop self-driving cars. The News reports that cars without self-driving features have been proven to be vulnerable to hacks, and researchers at the University of Michigan, University of Washington, Stony Brook University, and University of California, Berkeley have demonstrated that it is possible to trick the lidar sensors of self-driving cars. The piece points out that automakers created the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center “that allows car manufacturers to confidentially share information about potential cyberattacks.” 

Monday, November 6, 2017

BMW to recall more than one million vehicles due to fire risk.

The AP (11/3) reported that “BMW is recalling more than 1 million cars and SUVs in two U.S. recalls due to the risk of fires under the hood, and it’s recommending that they be parked outdoors until repairs are made.” According to the AP, documents posted Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal “that a heater for the positive crankcase ventilation valve can overheat and cause the valve to melt, increasing the risk of a fire even when the vehicle is not in use,” although there have been no injuries reported so far. The New York Times (11/4, Caron, Subscription Publication, 13.56M) reported a BMW spokesman insisted the risk of fire is “extremely rare.” 

Monday, October 30, 2017

NHTSA opens investigation into Ford vehicles whose steering wheels may fall off.

The AP (10/27) reports NHTSA has opened an investigation into Ford over “complaints that steering wheels can come loose or fall off in the Ford Fusion.” The story says NHTSA received at least three complaints about the potential defect, and its “probe revealed in documents posted Friday covers about 841,000 midsize sedans from the 2014 through 2016 model years.”
        Reuters (10/27, Shepardson) reports that similar problems have been identified before, with General Motors having recalled 2,100 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles in 2011 due to issues with steering wheels coming off.

        Also reporting on the recall are ABC News (10/27, Cook, 2.83M), Fox Business (10/27, Spector, 741K), the Car Connection (10/27, Ganz, 118K), Roadshow (10/27, 2.35M), Consumerist (10/27, Kieler, 60K), and Law360 (10/27, 16K). 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ford recalls 1.3 million F-Series trucks.

NBC Nightly News (10/18, story 11, 0:20, Holt, 16.61M) reported on its nightly broadcast that Ford has issued a recall for more than one million F-Series trucks, including model year 2015 through 2017 F-150s and 2017 super-duty trucks, because their doors may not be able to open or close and may appear to be closed despite not being latched. Reuters (10/18) reports the recall covers 1.34 million vehicles and is expected to cost the company $267 million. Reuters reports the current recall is a separate issue from the 5 million vehicles Ford recalled in 2016 due to door latch-related problems. Ford said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by the defect.

        The Detroit (MI) Free Press (10/18, 1.07M) quotes a press release from Ford explaining the problem, “In affected vehicles, a frozen door latch or a bent or kinked actuation cable may result in a door that will not open or will not close condition. Should a customer be able to open and close the door with these conditions, the door may appear closed, but the latch may not fully engage the door striker with the potential that the door could open while driving, increasing the risk of injury.” 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Center for Auto Safety calls on Ford to recall Explorers.

ABC World News Tonight (10/17, story 11, 0:15, Muir, 14.63M) reported that the Center for Auto Safety is calling on Ford to recall more than a million Explorers due to possible carbon monoxide exhaust leaks. Explorers belonging to police departments already have been taken off the road. However, Ford suggests that the civilian models of the vehicle are safe.
        The CBS Evening News (10/17, story 7, 2:10, Mason, 11.17M) reported that instead of recalling the vehicles, Ford has offered a “peace of mind” safety repair. CBS added that since last summer, the NHTSA has been investigating more than 2,700 complaints about exhaust leaking into the cabins of Explorers. The complaints include claims of three accidents and 41 injuries. While NHTSA says it has found no actual evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning, one Louisiana police officer said doctors diagnosed her with carbon monoxide poisoning after she crashed her Explorer.

        NBC Nightly News (10/17, story 12, 1:55, Holt, 16.61M) reported that Executive Director for the Center for Auto Safety Jason Levine warned, “What we don’t want to do is to wait for a body count before we start taking action.” 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

GM reports test fleet of robot cars was in six minor crashes last month.

Reuters (10/4) reports that General Motors’ self-driving unit, Cruise Automation, “has more than doubled the size of its test fleet of robot cars in California during the past three months.” However, as the test fleet has grown, it has also reported more crashes. In September, GM’s robot cars were involved in six minor crashes in California. Rebecca Mark, spokeswoman for GM Cruise, said, “All our incidents this year were caused by the other vehicle.” None of the accidents resulted in injuries or serious damage. In a statement, GM said, “While we look forward to the day when autonomous vehicles are commonplace, the streets we drive on today are not so simple, and we will continue to learn how humans drive and improve 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fiat Chrysler issues recall on 710,000 SUVs over brake issue.

Reuters (10/3) reports that “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s ... U.S. arm said on Tuesday it is recalling nearly 710,000 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to check shields that protect brake boosters for proper installation,” which were previously involved in a 2014 recall. The company said Tuesday it was aware of one accident that may be related to the recall of the 2011-2014 Dodge Durangos and 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees. The company “received 10,053 warranty claims from the vehicles involved in the recall.” The company also said the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquired in February about the vehicles repaired in the 2014 recall.

        The AP (10/3) reports that brake shields were improperly installed that “could let water leak in and limit braking ability.” The water can also cause corrosion or enter the booster and freeze. Vehicle drivers may notice a dashboard warning light prior to any problems. The recall is anticipated to begin on Nov. 7. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ford Recalls F-750 Heavy Trucks for Steering Problems

The Automotive Fleet (9/27, 62K) reports that “Ford Motor Co. is recalling 77 2015-model year Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks in the U.S. so dealers can resolve a steering system problem.” The problem involves a risk that the steering system’s tie rod becomes loose and disconnects, which could remove the driver’s ability to steer. The safety recall reference code is 17S30. Roadshow (9/27, 2.35M) also reports. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” “AVSTART Act”

The Senate Commerce Committee is working on crafting a draft proposed bill on Automated Vehicles in the Senate.  The AV START Act represents a positive step forward toward the eventual integration of automated driving systems into the vehicle fleet. However, it is critically important to public safety and protection of rights guaranteed under the constitution that there be a robust savings clause that clearly protects the safety of the American public and rights guaranteed to American citizens by the seventh (7th) Amendment to the Constitution, To protect public safety and constitutional rights the following language should be added to the bill: 

No preemption of common law or statutory causes of action for civil relief or criminal conduct
(A) In general
Nothing in this chapter, nor any amendment made by the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” or the “AV START Act” , nor any standard, rule, requirement, standard of performance, risk evaluation, or scientific assessment implemented pursuant to this chapter, shall be construed to preempt, displace, or supplant any State or Federal common law rights or any State or Federal statute creating a remedy for civil relief, including those for civil damage, or a penalty for a criminal conduct.
(B) Clarification of no preemption
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, nothing in this chapter, nor any amendments made by the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act” or the “AV START Act” shall preempt or preclude any cause of action for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, or other injury based on negligence, strict liability, products liability, failure to warn, or any other legal theory of liability under any State law, maritime law, or Federal common law or statutory theory.

This language should be non-controversial as it changes nothing in terms of longstanding constitutional rights, common law and statutory protections. General Motors has also stated publically, in an interview with the Detroit News:  “There are 100 years of legal precedent, we don’t see any reason that should be changed for Autonomous vehicles. We stand behind our product. Just like we stand behind our products we put on the road today we still stand behind our autonomous vehicles we put on the road today”

This language should also be familiar as it was the same language used in the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls diesel ram pickup trucks over fire risk.

Road and Track (9/24, Atiyeh, 887K) reports that “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 443,712 Ram pickup trucks in the United States for faulty water pumps that can potentially catch fire, the company said Tuesday.” Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks and chassis-cab 3500, 4500, and 5500s from 2013 through 2017 were built with faulty water-pump bearings. The trucks under the recall are powered with a 6.7 liter V-8 diesel engine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filing is not yet available. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fiat Chrysler issues Pacifica minivan seat belt recall.

The AP (9/20) reports that driving a Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivan too aggressively may cause a second-row seat belt to unbuckle. The company “is recalling almost 50,000 Pacifica vans in the U.S. and Canada from the 2017 and 2018 model years, all with an eight-passenger seating option.” The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “said in documents posted Wednesday...that dealers will install a shorter second-row seat belt buckle in a recall that’s expected to begin on Oct. 20.” Company engineers specialized in interior safety restraints discovered the issue. Fox Business (9/20, 741K) reports the company advised not using the second-row’s center seat when other passengers are seated in the same row, until repairs are made. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls nearly 500,000 trucks over defective water pump.

The Wall Street Journal (9/19, Dawson, Subscription Publication, 6.45M) reports Tuesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a recall of 494,417 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks as well as chassis cabs for the 3500, 4500, and 5500 models because of defective water pumps which may “overheat and potentially cause an engine fire” according to the announcement. No accidents or injuries have been reported.
        WWJ-TV Detroit (9/19, 34K) reports the trucks have 6.7-liter engines. The recall includes units with model years between 2013 to 2017. Reuters (9/19, Shepardson) reports FCA said “a small number of fire-related incidents” have been reported.

        The recall was also reported by CNN Money (9/19, Wiener-Bronner, 3.59M) and the AP (9/19). 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Volkswagen to recall more than 280,000 vehicles over engine stalling risk.

MLive (MI) (8/29, Raven, 947K) reports that Volkswagen is planning to recall more than 280,000 vehicles in the US “due to a potential issue with the fuel pumps failing, which would eventually cause the cars to stall.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents indicate the recall affects some four-cylinder 2009-2016 Volkswagen CC, 2006-2010 Volkswagen Passat and Passat Wagon models.

        According to the documents, the automaker says the possible loss of electrical power to the fuel pump control computer can stop the flow of gas, which will cause the engine to stop running, the AP (8/29). Owners will be notified in October. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mazda to recall nearly 80,000 older cars, SUVs to replace Takata airbag inflators.

MLive (MI) (8/15, 882K) reports Mazda will issue a recall of more than 79,000 older car and SUV models, including “certain 2007 through 2009, and 2012, Mazda CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda 6 vehicles,” to replace their Takata airbag inflators. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall documents, “The PSPI-6 air bag inflator, equipped in these subject Mazda vehicles, may potentially rupture during passenger side air bag deployment due to propellant degradation occurring after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high temperature cycling.” 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mazda updates recall of more than 205,000 vehicles over Takata airbags.

The Car Connection (7/26, Read, 176K) continues coverage of Mazda’s updated recall of more than 205,000 model years 2007 and 2011 Mazda6, CX-7, and CX-9 vehicles. Mazda issued a recall of the vehicles in 2016 “to replace Takata’s fatally flawed airbag inflators, which use ammonium nitrate to deploy airbags during collisions.” However, that recall did not offer a permanent fix, which the updated recall seeks to rectify. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls 805,000 cars due to defects, NHTSA filings show.

Car and Driver (7/17, Atiyeh, 5.75M) reports that filings by Fiat Chrysler with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate “Fiat Chrysler is recalling 805,694 cars in the U.S. for cars that can stall, set off airbags without warning, and catch on fire.” The models affected by the recall include “certain 2011–2014 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, Challenger, and Durango models, plus the 2012–2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee,” which will need to have their alternators replaced due to “faulty diodes.” 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls more than one million vehicles.

ABC World News Tonight (7/14, story 13, 0:25, Muir, 14.63M) broadcast that Fiat Chrysler is “recalling more than 1.3 million vehicles” for reasons involving either “the alternator, which could catch fire in several models of the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Challenger, Charger, Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee,” or due to “a wiring problem that could cause the driver’s side air bag to mistakenly deploy in Dodge Journeys from 2011 to 2015.” 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Honda recalls more than 1 million Accords.

The AP (7/13) reports on the recall of 1.2 million Accord vehicles in the US by Honda due to battery issues where “the sensors on the negative terminal of the battery aren’t properly sealed from moisture,” posing a fire risk. The recall affects vehicles from the 2013-2016 model years. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Takata recalls additional 2.7 million vehicles over faulty airbag inflators.

ABC World News Tonight (7/11, story 9, 0:20, Muir, 14.63M) reported that Takata is issuing a recall of “an additional 2.7 million vehicles because of a safety risk involving an air bag inflater.” The new recall includes “some Ford, Nissan and Mazda vehicles.”
        The company flagged these cars because they use calcium sulfate as a drying agent, which poses an explosion risk, the Wall Street Journal (7/11, Spector, Subscription Publication, 6.37M) reports, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents made public in Tuesday. The recall was made “out of an abundance of caution” and not from any actual ruptures that might have occurred. However, the NHTSA indicated the recall was prompted by new testing of the air bag inflators, which have already lead to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide, Reuters (7/11, Shepardson) reports. Nissan has said it will “recall 627,000 Versa cars from 2007-2012 model years, including 515,000 in the United States,” while “Ford spokesman John Cangany said the issue covers about 2.2 million Ford vehicles.”
        The New York Times (7/11, Maidenberg, Subscription Publication, 13.9M) says that “exposure to moisture and temperature fluctuations can degrade the propellant, which contains ammonium nitrate, a volatile compound Takata’s inflaters use to deploy airbags.” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said, “This recall now raises serious questions about the threat posed by all of Takata’s ammonium-nitrate-based airbags.” He also urged regulators to quickly figure out “whether all remaining Takata airbag inflaters are safe.”
        With this newest recall, Bloomberg News (7/11, Beene, Ma, 2.41M) says that a worst case scenario is that “abnormal rupture of inflators that have a desiccant might spur a recall of 130 million air bags worldwide,” which is up from the 68 million already set to be recalled through 2019. The piece says Takata is possibly looking at $13 billion in recall costs, according to analyst Takaki Nakanishi of Jefferies Group LLC.

        Additional coverage includes the AP (7/11, Krisher), The Hill (7/11, Zanona, 1.25M), the AP (7/11), the Automotive Fleet (7/11, 62K), AutoBeat Daily (7/11, Subscription Publication), Autoblog (7/11, 459K), and ConsumerAffairs (7/11, Hood, 154K). 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Uber drivers often work “dangerously” long shifts.

USA Today (7/10, Kruzman, 5.28M) reports on Uber drivers who drive continuously for extended periods of time. The Uber app does not have a limit for the number of hours that a driver can work consecutively. Because Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors instead of employees, the drivers are not bound by federal labor laws governing work hours. USA Today reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “estimates that 100,000 car accidents reported to the police each year directly result from driver fatigue, though no concrete data exists on how many of those involved Uber or other ride-hailing service drivers.” 

Monday, July 10, 2017

NHTSA investigating faulty Continental parts “that may cause auto gas leaks.”

Crain’s Detroit Business (7/8, 75K) reports that US safety regulators and automakers “are trying to track down gas tank flanges that can crack and cause fuel leaks on what could be millions of cars and trucks.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “began investigating the parts made by German supplier Continental Automotive GmbH, whose U.S. operations are based in Auburn Hills, after the company filed recall documents this week saying the parts could be defective.” The documents, posted Friday by the agency, “say Continental sold the potentially faulty flanges to 11 automakers and five other parts supply companies.”
        Continental warns Porsche, Audi SUV recall may impact 13 other automakers. Bloomberg News (7/7, Beene, 2.41M) reported Continental AG warned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a filing released on Friday that its “faulty fuel pump parts that have spurred U.S. recalls of more than 450,000 SUVs by Volkswagen AG and its Porsche and Audi brands” had also been sold to an additional 13 automakers and auto parts suppliers, “including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar Land Rover.” As such, the NHTSA is “probing whether vehicles and parts sold by those other companies also contain defective fuel pump flanges from Continental, which can crack and cause a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire, according to a document” on the agency’s website.

        The AP (7/7, Krisher) reported the flanges “can crack and cause fuel leaks on what could be millions of cars and trucks.” The AP added a spokeswoman for Continental “conceded the number could run into the millions, but said it will be difficult to determine how many were sold because part numbers are not the same. The company has no reports of fires caused by the problem, she said.” 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Volkswagen recalls 766,000 vehicles worldwide over brake system.

Reuters (7/6) reports Volkwagen has issued a global recall of 766,000 vehicles under the VW brand due to a defect in the braking system that requires a software update. The recall includes 288,000 VW cars in Germany, in addition to about 100,000 Audi and Skoda vehicles there. 

Injured drivers get official role in Takata bankruptcy.

Reuters (7/6, Hals) reports from Wilmington, DE that “people injured by Takata Corp’s defective air bags were given an official role in the bankruptcy of its U.S. unit on Thursday, allowing them to challenge restructuring plans that plaintiffs’ lawyers have criticized as protective of automakers.” According to Reuters, “a seven-member official committee will represent economic loss and personal injury or tort claimants, David Buchbinder, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice’s bankruptcy watchdog, told a meeting of creditors of Takata’s U.S. business.” Reuters notes that “official committees receive funds from a debtor to hire professionals who can carry out investigations and test financial assumptions.” 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mazda recalls 227,000 cars due to parking brake issue.

MLive (MI) (7/3, Raven, 878K) reports Mazda has issued a recall for 227,814 of its “2014 and 2015 Mazda 6, and 2014 and 2016 Mazda 3 models due to a possible issue with the parking brake.” According to the article, “the issue is due to the parking brake not fully releasing or holding the four-door cars in place,” and “the key safety risk is that the cars may unexpectedly move if parked on a slope.” 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Auto industry pushing for federal oversight on self-driving cars.

The Detroit Free Press (6/27, Snavely, 1.01M) reports that representatives from the auto industry are pushing Washington lawmakers for “greater federal oversight and authority to regulate self-driving cars while consumer safety watchdogs warned Congress about the dangers of proposed federal legislation that they say goes too far.” The industry is seeking the ability to “test and deploy much larger fleets of driverless cars and make it clear that federal regulations takes precedence over state laws.” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) has argued for the need for smart federal regulation so that US automakers are able to stay ahead of industry innovation globally. She said she is talking with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about draft bills on the matter.
        Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday “sparred” over such regulations, as well as “a proposal to allow automakers and technology companies to bypass existing regulations in introducing autonomous cars,” Reuters (6/27, Shepardson) reports. US House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Democrats say the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should be aggressive in mandating self-driving car safety. The piece says that Republicans have introduced a package of 14 bills, which would “allow NHTSA to exempt up to 100,000 vehicles per year from federal motor vehicle safety rules.” The NHTSA had established voluntary guidelines for self-driving cars under the Obama Administration, which Chao “vowed to quickly update.”
        Additional coverage includes the Detroit News (6/27, Laing, 473K).

        Advocates urge Congress for more safety regulations on driverless cars. Bloomberg News (6/27, Beene, 2.41M) reports that safety and consumer advocates on Tuesday told Congress that before companies, such as Apple and Ford, are allowed to “expand testing of self-driving cars,” there need to be “basic rules of the road.” Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety argue that the safety of driverless cars need to be certified before testing and that Congress should allow fewer such cars to be tested on roads. Bloomberg says that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “currently allow automakers to field vehicles that don’t comply with the letter of federal auto-safety standards under certain limited circumstances.” 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Takata files for bankruptcy in air-bag recall scandal.

USA Today (6/25, Jones, Bomey, 5.28M) reports Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday, as it faces “massive costs associated with defective air bags.” The piece provides a timeline of the company’s problems, beginning in the 1990s with the production of “air-bag inflators with ammonium nitrate propellant,” that by 2000 they knew were not properly functioning. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into a recall issued by Honda over defective airbags. By 2012, US regulators found that “Takata ‘failed to clarify inaccurate information’ on the air bags.”
        In its own more recent timeline of Takata’s air-bag trouble, Bloomberg News (6/25, 2.41M) reports that in 2014, the NHTSA added an additional 3 million cars to recalls already initiated by Honda, Toyota and Nissan. In 2016, the NHTSA “order[ed] Takata to replace as many as 40 million additional air bags,” not long after which the company agreed “to plead guilty and pay $1 billion in the U.S. to settle an investigation.”
        Takata’s bankruptcy trouble “isn’t just a crisis for its employees and suppliers,” but “also throws a wild card into one of the biggest and most complicated recalls in automotive history,” Bloomberg News (6/25, Buckland, Horie, Beene, 2.41M) says. The piece indicates the company’s “filing to restructure, which listed more than $10 billion in liabilities, doesn’t relieve a manufacturer of recall responsibilities,” but that carmakers may be left footing the cost if its financial assets are exhausted “before all the work is done.” According to the NHTSA, “only 38 percent of the 43 million air bag inflators under recall in the U.S. had been repaired as of May 26.”
        The company has said that it intends to “sell key assets to U.S. supplier Key Safety Systems,” Automotive News (6/25, Walsh, 188K) reports. Separately, Key Safety said that “it would buy ‘substantially all’ of Takata’s global assets and operations for $1.59 billion.” However, this would “not include some operations related to Takata’s business in the ammonium nitrate airbag inflators” that have been the subject of the global recall. According to Key Safety, Takata will reorganize its ammonium nitrate airbag inflator operations, which will eventually be wound down.

        Similarly, USA Today (6/25, Krisher, 5.28M) reports that “some remnants of Takata will be folded into an entity with a different name to keep manufacturing inflators used as replacement parts in recalls,” according to those briefed on the matter who did not want to be identified. The piece says that $1 billion from the sale “will be used to satisfy Takata’s settlement of criminal charges in the U.S.” What the rest of the money will be used for is still unclear. 

Farmers awarded $218M in Syngenta lawsuit.

The AP (6/23, Suhr) reported a Kansas federal jury on Friday awarded nearly $218 million to farmers in a lawsuit against Syngenta for introducing a GM corn variety to China before it had been approved. Syngenta has vowed to appeal the verdict, stating that “it will only serve to deny American farmers access to future technologies even when they are fully approved in the US” and alleging that the Viptera corn is “in full compliance with US regulatory and legal requirements.”

        Reuters (6/23, Raymond) reported the farmers argued that after China had rejected the Viptera corn shipments, the loss of the Chinese market led to over $5 billion in losses for corn producers. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New study identifies seven deadliest car models.

CBS News (6/6, Edgerton, 4.4M) reports a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study identifies the car models that have “the highest rate of driver fatalities.” The seven worst of these are “minicars or small cars,” including “the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Scion,” each with over “100 driver fatalities per million registered vehicle years.” Additionally, “Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta sedan and the Kia Soul” have “fatality rates over 80.” The study draws on fatality rate data from the years 2012 to 2015 and compares the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatality figures with IHS Automotive registration data. 

NHTSA investigating Jeep Liberty over faulty airbag system.

Leftlane News (6/6, King, 9K) continues coverage of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation into complaints received regarding some model-year 2012 Jeep Liberty vehicles. At least 44 complaints have been received regarding “occupant restraint controller (ORC) failures.” The NHTSA said, “a failed ORC may prevent the air bag system from operating properly in a crash.” Additionally, it said, “a Preliminary Evaluation has been opened to assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequence of the alleged defect.” 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Graco recalls 25,000 car seats over flaw in harness webbing.

AP (5/24) reports Graco Children’s Products has issued a recall for “more than 25,000 car seats because the harness webbing can break in a crash and may not keep children restrained.” According to the AP, “the recall affects certain My Ride 65 convertible seats” made on July 22, 2014, “with model numbers 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015, and 1794334.”
        CNN (5/24, Jimison, 29.79M) reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the issue on Wednesday, saying the webbing in the My Ride 65 car seats failed to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards during NHTSA tests.

        Also reporting are Cars (5/24, Masterson, 716K), the Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution (5/24, Pirani, 1.41M), NJ News (5/24, Goldman, 952K), Consumerist (5/24, Kieler, 56K), TODAY (5/24, Holohan, 1.85M), the Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette (5/24, Faust, 493K), and Fortune (5/24, 7.12M). 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

As we end May-the Bicycle Safety Month- and enter the Memorial Day Weekend and the “unofficial” start of Summer please remember bicycle safety, for tips on prepping your bike for summer, correctly fitting a helmet, and rules of the road, please visit:

Americans are increasingly bicycling to commute, for exercise, or just for fun. By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. Whether riding our bikes or driving in our cars, we must all share the road, and keep in mind the Pennsylvania Bicycle Safety Act, some key points are:

• Bicycles must be operated in the right hand lane, or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

• This does not apply to a bicycle using any portion of the road due to unsafe surface conditions.

• Motorists must overtake a bicycle with no less than four feet between the vehicle and the bicycle and must do so at a prudent speed.

• No turn by a motorist may interfere with a bicycle proceeding straight.

• Bicycles must be operated at a safe and reasonable speed.

Pennsylvania drivers and bicyclists should be aware of and adhere to these safety rules in order to safely share the roads. They are designed to make bicycle travel safer and reduce the risk of traffic collisions.

Riding a bicycle is more than a fun and healthy family activity. Besides being a great way to exercise many people also use bicycles to commute to work, go to the grocery store, or to visit friends.  Drivers, please always remember, that bicyclist you are sharing the road with, or sometimes cut off, or cut it too close, is someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.25 million dodge Ram pickups over software glitch.

NBC News (5/15, 2.67M) reports in continuing coverage that Fiat Chrysler is recalling over 1.25 million Ram pickup trucks “due to a software glitch that can cause some of the vehicles’ airbags and seatbelts to fail during rollover crashes.” According to the company, the issue has been linked to at least one death and two injuries. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.25 million Ram pickup trucks.

ABC World News Tonight (5/12, story 13, 0:20, Muir, 14.63M) broadcast on “a massive auto recall” by Fiat Chrysler involving “more than a million Ram pickup trucks to fix faulty software that could disable airbags and seat belt tension devices.” So far, one death has been reported in relation to the defect, which affects “Ram models from 2013 to 2016.”

        The AP (5/12) reports the “software glitch” can “prevent side air bags and seatbelts from deploying during a rollover.” According to the story, when the Ram pickups “experience significant underbody impact, a computer module may incorrectly determine that one of its sensors has failed, temporarily disabling the side air bag and seat belt pretensioner.” In addition to the one death reported, FCA believes there have been two injuries in connection to the defect, as well as two accidents. 

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.” 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mercedes-Benz recalls 1 million vehicles for fire risk.

Motor Trend (3/6, 2.62M) reports Mercedes-Benz is recalling “roughly 1 million vehicles worldwide due to a fire risk involving a starter part.” According to the company, “the fires stem from a flawed current limiter or fuse that can overheat and melt other parts after repeated attempts to start.” WBNS-TV Columbus, OH (3/6, 184K) reports online that 308,000 of the vehicles are located in the US. Mercedes-Benz is “currently unaware of any injuries or deaths resulting from the issue.” 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mercedes recalls more than 350,000 cars for fire risk.

Consumerist (3/3, Kieler, 56K) reports on “the recall of 354,434 model year 2015 to 2017 C-Class, E-Class, and CLA cars and GLA and GLC SUVs” by Mercedes-Benz over fire risks due to defective starters “that can overheat.”

        The Car Connection (3/3, Read, 86K), Cars (3/3, Masterson, 716K), Law360 (3/3, Kass, 23K), and the Automotive Fleet (3/3, 62K) also report. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Atlee Hall Attorney Jaime Jackson Speaks to National Audience on the Sorin Stockert 3T Heater Cooler Device and Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Chimaera Infections

Atlee Hall Attorney Jaime Jackson recently updated a group of attorneys gathered in Miami, Florida on the status of litigation involving the Sorin 3T heater-cooler devices.  Atlee Hall has been at the forefront of this litigation involving the Sorin 3T and the Nontuberculous Mycobacteria chimaera (NTM) bacteria infection, since 2014
It had been alleged that the Sorin 3T heater-cooler devices manufactured by Sorin Group Deutschland and distributed by Sorin Group USA in Arvada, Colorado, contained Nontuberculous Mycobacteria chimaera, which contaminated patients at local hospitals during open heart surgical procedures.  The CDC referred to a recent study published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which confirmed that genome sequencing from patients with confirmed bacterial infections matched bacteria samples taken from contaminated machines.   The study identifies contamination of the devices at the company’s manufacturing plant in Munchen, Germany.

While many hospitals have not yet disclosed patient infections to date, Pennsylvania hospitals in Philadelphia, York, and Dauphin counties have revealed the presence of infections.  Most recently, Penn Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia has confirmed that several of its patients have been diagnosed with the infection.  It is expected that the number of confirmed cases will continue to grow after the publication of this study since the Sorin devices comprise approximately 60% of the market for these devices.  Atlee Hall, LLP currently represents several patients who have contracted the NTM infection from the Sorin Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler Devices 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

        Attorneys mobilize for legal challenges to Trump policies. The New York Times (1/30, Savage, Subscription Publication, 13.9M) reports that “the calls and emails went out a little past 10 p.m. Friday, rippling through an informal network of current and former Yale Law School students who had worked at the school’s immigrant rights advocacy clinic.” The news “told of an Iraqi man being detained at Kennedy International Airport because of President Trump’s travel ban, putting him at imminent risk of deportation.” According to the Times, “around three dozen lawyers and law students across the country” worked through the night and “slammed together a legal complaint asking a federal judge to free the man” and “to certify their lawsuit as a class action on behalf of others in a similar situation.” They filed their lawsuit around 5:30 am “on the electronic docket system for the Eastern District of New York,” and thus “began the opening salvos of the legal pushback to Mr. Trump’s executive order banning entry to refugees and others from seven predominantly Muslim countries.” 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Honda airbag recall expanded.

The CBS Evening News (1/11, story 9, 0:30, Pelley, 11.17M) reported Honda is recalling an additional 772,000 vehicles due to defective Takata air bags, bringing the recall to “as many as 69 million air bags in American cars and trucks.”

        Car and Driver (1/11, Atiyeh, 5.64M) reports that Honda’s addition of “772,000 more cars” to the airbag recalls comes “as the troubled Japanese supplier announced new repair schedules for several million inflators currently under recall.” The article notes that “Honda has the most US vehicles of any automaker affected by the Takata recalls,” with the total “now standing at 11.4 million cars and motorcycles.” 

Monday, January 9, 2017

FCA recalls 100,000 vehicles worldwide to fix Takata airbags.

The AP (1/6) reports Fiat Chrysler issued a recall notice for “more than 100,000 older trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators,” which have been at the heart of the largest auto recall in world history.
        USA Today (1/6, 5.28M) reports online that the recall mostly affects “passenger but some driver air bags in certain 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs, some 2010 Ram 3500 chassis cabs, and certain 2005-2009 Ram 2500 pickups.”
        Reuters (1/6) also reports.

        Takata says 1.3 million more faulty airbag inflators in US vehicles. AutoBeat Daily (1/6, Subscription Publication) reports Takata announced “another 1.3 million of its front airbag inflators in the U.S. could explode,” but the company informed NHTSA “that the new batch of devices can do the same after only moderate heat and humidity cycles.” The vehicles are mostly from the 2009 model year, with “20 states and the District of Columbia” falling under the recall.