Toyota has agreed to make a payment of $17.35 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is “to settle claims related to the timeliness of its June 2012 recall to address the potential for accelerator pedal entrapment caused by unsecured or incompatible driver’s side floor mat in the 2010 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h, without admitting to any violation of its obligations under the U.S. Safety Act.,” as a Toyota statement says. (Read More…)
Was your airbag replaced within the past three years? Did you buy a used car that sustained air bag deployment before you bought it? Did you buy a car with a salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed title? Did you get a great deal on an air bag? In that case, be suspicious of your airbag, because it could kill you. (Read More…)
16,290 people were killed in road accidents from January through June, says the NHTSA. For the first time since 2006, deaths are up. The NHTSA does not know why fatalities are up, but the usual suspects have already been rounded up. (Read More…)
Close your eyes and imagine it’s 1979. A first-term Democratic president struggles with unemployment, malaise, high energy prices, and embassy trouble. The landscape of today looks like the landscape of then, but there’s one important thing missing: The compact pickup. Where did they go? The small pickup was an indelible symbol of America’s lowered expectations in the Seventies and Eighties. Now that crappy times are here again, where are the paper-thin truck beds and wheezy-but-indestructible four-cylinders to pull them?
Citing New York’s leadership in banning hand-held cell phone use in cars, NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart urged the Empire State to become the first to ban all use of personal electronic devices while driving. Though careful to call it a state issue, Hart did hint that state compliance with forthcoming NTSB recommendations could be tied to federal highway funds (he has separately called for a national ban).
And indeed, New York’s legislators seemed to see the issue of distraction as an issue for federal action (but then, why not make the feds pay for it?). At the same time, everyone understands that the problem is near-ubiquitous and any full ban on personal device use in cars would be near-impossible to enforce (short of Assemblyman McDonough’s suggestion that automakers equip cars with cell-phone signal blockers)… which raises huge questions about federal-level action.
NHTSA has closed their investigation into the Chevrolet Volt’s fire risk, stating that the agency “does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”
General Motors announced changes to the Chevrolet Volt’s design after a NHTSA investigation into why a Volt caught fire following crash testing.
The changes will go into effect once production restarts at the Hamtramck, Michigan facility, but customer cars already sold will follow a different protocol.
Wamp wamp! That’s the sound of the sad trombone playing for the Chevrolet Volt, which missed its 2011 sales target by 2,329 units. General Motors hoped that the Volt would sell 10,000 units in 2011, but it was not to be.
Bloomberg reports that the bow tie brand sold only 7,671 Volts in 2011, but has plants to increase annual production to 60,000 units annually. 45,000 of those will be sold in the United States. The Volt had only been on sale nationwide for the final three months of 2011.
On my raceboat, we had one of those big red things pictured above. It was supposed to switch everything off when things went awry. The NHTSA now proposes something similar for cars with keyless ignition. It is intended to stop the car immediately in a panic situation. Of course it won’t be as intuitive as the big red switch pictured above. After all, the solution comes from Washington, DC.
“U.S. auto-safety regulators proposed standardizing keyless ignitions to allow drivers to turn off cars faster and more easily in incidents of unintended acceleration following Toyota Motor Corp.’s record recalls. “
If course, this is not entirely true. (Read More…)
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seeking:
“All records, documents, internal and external documentations between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and General Motors between June 1, 2009 and December 1, 2011. These requested records shall include communication regarding the Chevrolet Volt, also known as the Chevy Volt.”
That’s a lot of paper if the request will be granted. (Read More…)
GM is close to having a fix for the Volt battery that had a tendency to go up in flames after a crash. Meanwhile in Washington, senators are getting the grill ready. (Read More…)
With NHTSA opening a formal defect investigation into the Chevy Volt, GM is moving to defend its rolling lightning rod (no pun intended) and allay consumer fears about its safety. Yesterday I briefly appeared on Fox Business’s Your World With Neil Cavuto show to talk about what the intro to my segment referred to as “the hybrid from hell” and the “killer in your garage.” I tried to explain that the danger to consumers was basically nil, and that the real concern is for rescue, towing and salvage workers. And I would have explained why NHTSA’s tests still leave some serious questions open, but my “fair and balanced” approach meant that my segment ended up being extremely short. So let’s take the opportunity now to look past the hysteria and pinpoint the real issues with NHTSA’s investigation into the Volt.
NHTSA has has opened a formal defect investigation into the Chevrolet Volt, on the grounds that
Intrusion in a crash may damage the battery, which may result in a substantial thermal reaction and fire
We knew that NHTSA was already looking in to this type of defect after an earlier test incident, but the official investigation resume [PDF] lists three separate thermal events that have occurred as a result of NHTSA tests. Hit the jump for the official explanation of this sequence of events.