Tag: NHTSA

By on August 11, 2017

pumping fuel

While the Trump administration continues gearing itself up to loosen fuel standards for automakers, much to the chagrin of environmentalists and other countries, the agencies that set those benchmarks want to pick your brain a little before making a final decision. You’ve got an opportunity to be part of the process — the painfully boring, yet incredibly important, process.

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation opened a public comment period on the reconsideration of the standards for greenhouse gas emissions for light vehicles built for the 2022-2025 model years. Additionally, the EPA wants comments on the appropriateness of the existing 2021 standards. The agencies are inviting the public to submit any relevant (i.e. factual) data and information that can inform a final decision of the standards.  (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

Ford Police Interceptor Utility

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is inching its way toward what could be a massive recall of Ford Explorers. An initial probe kicked off in 2016 after owners entered numerous complaints of an unpleasant exhaust smell in the cabin into the NHTSA database.

Formal grievances swelled into the hundreds by the end of the year and continued growing into 2017. The issue was so serious, one California police officer faulted it for overpowering him while behind the wheel of his Explorer-based Interceptor Utility, resulting in a crash last February. He wasn’t alone. On Thursday, the NHTSA announced at least three other wrecks could be attributed to carbon monoxide exposure inside the vehicle. All in all, the agency stated it is aware of 41 injuries and over 2,700 complaints linked to the issue.

While the injuries are mostly instances of nausea, severe headache, and dizziness, those symptoms pose a serious risk while driving. Concerned the problem could result in another crash, the NHTSA has broadened the probe to encompasses 1.33 million vehicles from 2011 to 2017 and upgraded it to a complete engineering analysis.  (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

airbag

Takata, the parts supplier that furnished automakers with millions of extremely dangerous airbag inflators, was forced to issue another recall last week. Considering the hundreds of millions of units already recalled by the company, another 2.7 million is a drop in the bucket. But there’s a slight problem, as these newly recalled inflators are devices that have already been replaced.

In 2015, regulators specified Takata had until the end of 2019 to ensure its replacement airbag inflators were safe. With the “fixed” units now under scrutiny, automakers may be liable for the supplier’s wrongdoing as the millions upon millions of recalled inflators would need to be replaced for a second time. The current recall was prompted after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the drying agent added specifically to combat the moisture that degrades the ammonium nitrate compound wasn’t effective.

“Absent proof that the other desiccated inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall,” the NHTSA said in a statement last week.  (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2017

pumping fuel

Automakers’ ability to adhere to the regulatory standards set by the U.S. government are beginning to slip. Manufacturers predicted industry-wide economy inadequacies for 2016 model year vehicles, anticipating things would only worsen for 2017. The Trump administration has framed itself as a friend to automotive companies, with the president himself claiming he would remove regulatory hurdles while in office. Corporate economy guidelines established under President Obama are already under review, but now so are the penalties companies would have to pay for not meeting them.

In a regulatory filing on Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would be seeking public comment on how to revise plans, slated to go into effect from the 2019 model year, which would more than double the penalties on auto manufacturers that fall short of meeting the government-set economy targets.  (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2017

crash test dummies
We knew the Trump administration wanted to deregulate the automotive industry in order to free it from any production hangups, be it imagined or genuine. However, some of the items under consideration for potential elimination are safety features that seem silly to go without. At the top of that list is the requirement that all electrically driven vehicles must emit noise to alert pedestrians to their presence.

However, this isn’t the only safety feature at risk of becoming an optional extra. In budget documents provided to Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration specified it is considering six separate areas for deregulation. Those include the modern standard for rear-view mirrors and backup cameras in passenger cars, mandatory electronic stability-control units for heavy trucks, and a rule allowing car dealers to install switches to deactivate airbags in customer vehicles.

While some of the rules could be abolished entirely, others are more likely to undergo some gentle retooling to provide automakers greater flexibility. Automakers have long pressed for the revamp of some antiquated, NHTSA-administered safety standards in order to permit the introduction of newer technologies. Still, eliminating any safety mandate is likely to raise the ire of consumer safety advocates, whether the end goal is well-intentioned or not.  (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2017

GM Assembly, Image: General Motors

General Motors’ safety practices are no longer under the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The three-year oversight period was part of a settlement GM reached with U.S. regulators back in May 2014, resulting from its failure to recall defective ignition switches attributed to 124 deaths and countless injuries.

While NHTSA’s role as General Motors’ personal watchdog ended last month, the automaker said it intends to continue meeting with the agency on a monthly basis to discuss potential defects. It also stated that the time spent with the regulator had been transformative, leading to a safer environment and more stringent quality control.  (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2017

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

The National Transportation Safety Board has finally concluded its investigation into a May 2016 crash in Florida that resulted in the death of 40-year-old Joshua Brown. The ex-Navy SEAL’s Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot mode when it collided with a semi trailer, raising speculation that the semi-autonomous driving feature was the reason for the accident.

While Tesla has repeatedly called the system a lane-keeping “assist feature” and suggested drivers always keep their hands on the wheel, consumer safety groups have urged the automaker to improve it.

An earlier investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in January that the Autopilot software in Brown’s car did not have any safety defects. However, the NTSB stated that data acquired from the vehicle’s computer indicated that neither the vehicle nor its operator made any attempt to avoid the truck. It also specified that the vehicle had issued seven warnings for Brown to retake the wheel.

In the 37 minutes leading up to the fatal crash, the report said the car detected hands on the steering wheel for a total of 25 seconds.

(Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

autonomous hardware

A coterie of Republican officials believe individual states should be forbidden from governing themselves in regard to autonomous vehicles. Only in its commencement, a new U.S. House proposal claims states would not be within their rights to mandate the design or testing of self-driving cars.

If made law, the proposal would eliminate the need for automakers to acquire any pre-market approval from federal regulators. While that sounds like a free-for-all ripe for accountability issues, several states already have laissez-faire or highly supportive attitudes when it comes to autonomous vehicles, though others could become serious headaches for automakers hoping to swiftly get the technology on the road.

The 45-page legislative draft includes 14 bills and would designate the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as the primary agency for regulating self-driving cars. It’s aggressively pro-business and, despite being penned by Republicans, has managed to achieve some bipartisan support.  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

Front Pedestrian Braking, a new active safety technology available on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2016 Cadillac CT6, is one of many safety features tested at General Motors' new Active Safety Test Area at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. Image: Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors

There was a time when seat belts were considered unnecessary, reserved as an optional extra for motorists who ventured out onto roadways in a state of white-knuckle fear. What pathetic bags of flesh, many thought, wrapping themselves in a polyester harness because they can’t handle themselves on the road — thinking it will save them from the reckoning of sheet metal and glass.

We know better now. Seat belts are proven life savers and advanced restraint systems are compulsory for both automakers and occupants. That will likely be the path of automatic emergency braking takes as well. Nissan announced Thursday it would make auto braking systems standard on a large portion of 2018 models sold in the United States. Toyota is doing the same. But the technology is not yet ubiquitous, nor has it acquired universal public approval. Many worry it could be too invasive or provide a false sense of invincibility, so it could be a while before AEB becomes expected equipment on all new models.  (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

Jeep Liberty 2012, Image: Jeep

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting a preliminary investigation regarding the 2012 Jeep Liberty’s airbag system after numerous complaints of a faulty control computer, leaving the safety measure non-functional in the event of an accident. That particular model year has already undergone a 2013 recall that required dealerships to re-flash the brand’s Totally Integrated Power Module for similar problems relating to non-deployment of active head restraints.

Owners have reported airbag warning lights remaining on while driving. Several were informed the occupant restraint controller (ORC) needed to be replaced, but their vehicle was not among the model years recalled. Since many drivers elected not to pay to have the system repaired, the NHTSA is concerned a recall may be necessary.  (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2017

2014 Hyundai Sonata

The timeliness of a recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II four-cylinder engines is the focus of a formal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation revealed today.

Metal engine debris resulting from a faulty production process is behind the expansive recall of nearly 1.7 million vehicles, but the NHTSA wants to know if the recall expanded too slowly. Just how much Hyundai knew about the widespread issue is a big question mark, made all the more pressing by the testimony of a company whistleblower. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

2002-Chevrolet-TrailBlazer-SUV_Image-08-800

Following a raft of complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has once again turned its attention to the headlights of pre-bankruptcy era General Motors vehicles. Apparently, the first two recalls for the exact same problem might not have culled all of the automaker’s wonky low beams.

The 312,000 vehicles involved in the NHTSA investigation span a fateful period for the automaker. While GM’s future at the time wasn’t bright, neither were its low beams. Owners have complained the lights can shut off unexpectedly, sending one driver on a date with a creek. (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Out of Patience Fuel Gauge Mug

Not to go all political on you, but it’s amazing how President Obama acted more like a bitter foreclosure victim — one who goes nuts and destroys as much of the house as they can, just short of being arrested for vandalism — during his last days in office, and not a graceful man given two terms as the leader of the free world.

Mr. Obama did this in two ways: one action affected a short list of government folk, and the other impacted one of the most important industries in our lives — the auto industry.

The short-listed government victims are those affected by Obama’s order to share dirt on people talking with “foreigners.” It’s against the law — but when did that stop the former President? What’s worse, and perhaps deadly, is Mr. Obama’s decision to renege on his promise to check and perhaps re-adjust the daunting future Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard his administration first put in place in 2009, which the administration made even wackier in 2011.

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

pumping fuel

California has green-lit light-vehicle pollution targets that the Trump administration has placed under review. As expected, the Golden State is going to continue playing hardball over Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Already critical of the automotive industry for asking the president to reconsider federal guidelines through 2025, the California Air Resources Board hinted that it wouldn’t stray from the emission targets set by the Obama administration in 2012. On Friday, CARB finalized its state emissions rules while setting an updated ordinance on zero-emission vehicles. “We’re going to press on,” said Mary Nichols, head of the board, during last week’s press conference.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

pumping fuel

An economic assessment conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, due to recent improvements in technology, the Environmental Protection Agency’s rationale for its 2025 fuel efficiency standards may have overestimated the cost for automakers to comply. The ICCT’s study shows average per-car investments 34 to 40 percent lower than the previous EPA appraisal.

While this information, had it come out sooner, may not have kept automotive executives from bending the president’s ear to reevaluate EPA guidelines, it certainly reframes their reasons for doing so. The ICCT, famous for turning researchers loose on Volkswagen diesels, makes a good case that manufacturers have the tools to meet current standards without spending a lot of money.  (Read More…)

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