The House Energy And Commerce Committee has passed an amended version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that was previously approved by its Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. True to our prediction, longtime auto industry ally Rep John Dingell (D-MI) was able to maintain caps on NHTSA’s fining power at $200m per automaker per defect recall (up from the current cap of $16.4m) and $5m per auto executive per defect, and require that NHTSA inform automakers and allow for an appeal before invoking the “imminent hazard” powers authorized by the bill. Dingell tells Automotive News [sub] that
The bill is going to be a hard one for the industry to accept, but I believe it’s in the public interest and is good overall.
The Committee-approved version of the bill still doubles NHTSA funding to $280m over three years, and establishes a $3 per new-vehicle-sale “vehicle safety user fee” that will increase to $9 per new-vehicle-sale in the same three-year timeframe. The bill also prevents former NHTSA employees from lobbying the regulator for a year after leaving their government positions. It also makes brake-override systems and “black box” event data recorders mandatory on all new cars sold (although it doesn’t require that EDRs record for 75 seconds, as previous drafts did), but allows NHTSA to set a timeline for implementation of these standards. If passed into law, the bill would also require NHTSA to come up with standards for
foot-pedal placement, electronic systems, push-button ignition systems and transmission configuration
performance requirements for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating [in EV mode]
barred NHTSA from collecting civil fines from General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC while the companies are under government ownership