Heads of Automakers in US Meet In Washington, Discuss Safety, Recalls

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Auto executives from nearly every major U.S. automaker met in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to discuss safety, recalls and technology with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Automotive News reported.

Senior executives from 15 automakers, including General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn and Nissan North America boss Jose Munoz, met to address Foxx’s concerns that “the public has lost faith in the auto industry’s commitment to safety,” according to a letter obtained by Automotive News.

The recent snowballing recall crises at GM, FCA and other automakers concerning Takata’s airbag inflators prompted the meeting, according to reports. A spokesman for the Transportation Department said the meeting was “very productive.”

The breadth and scope of current recalls have suggested a souring relationship between automakers and safety regulators — and a growing distrust between the public and the automakers as well.

So far this year, automakers have paid record sums to regulators for botched recalls and defective cars. This summer, GM paid $900 million for defective ignition switches that killed 124 people, FCA paid $105 million for botched recalls on some of its cars and airbag-maker Takata agreed to a $70 million fine that could swell up to $200 million if conditions aren’t met.

“Participants were asked to come prepared with suggestions to share, and spend the next month working toward concrete commitments to industrywide safety measures,” a DOT spokesman told Bloomberg.

The meeting was held on the same day that Congress proposed raising the cap on civil penalties for automakers who don’t disclose safety defects on their cars from $35 million to $105 million, according to the Detroit News.

The proposed bill would also notify owners via email of impending recalls and force rental car companies to repair recalled vehicles before issuing those cars to drivers.

The group also reportedly talked about cybersecurity, but no details were made public.

According to reports the automakers will meet again in January.

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6 of 13 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 02, 2015

    There is plenty of blame to go around: 1. Shoddy (at times) engineering work by the mfrs. 2. The pressure of the annual product cycle, with too little time to properly test all contingencies, especially age-related issues. 3. Too much trust placed in OEM suppliers, and too little oversight of them. 4. Trial lawyers who win exorbitant settlements for their clients. 5. Consumers who want the lowest-cost gadget-laden product and the highest-possible legal settlements if they fail. 6. Over-reaching (at times) government regulators. 7. An abundance of drunk-driving accidents which hurt everyone involved - the drunk, the victims, the insurance rates, the engineers who are asked to protect the public from them, etc. 8. A public that demands protection from themselves and from the Big Bad Companies, without funding the oversight to do so. 9. Higher speed limits. It pains me to include this one, but both physics and statistics show that speed kills. And there are more.

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    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 02, 2015

      @Pch101 The narrow case of Takata fits into my #1, 2, 3 above. I was referring to the overall theme of the meeting described in this article, which has many tentacles.

  • Stuki Stuki on Dec 02, 2015

    IOW, 16 progressive corporatists getting together to figure out how 15 of them can get bigger bonuses this year than last, and the 16th can either get reelected, or a cush job exploiting his rolodex. Minimally literate people who actually cared about what "the people's" faith in the auto industry was, would, like, talk to "the people." But in the Age of Incompetence, minimally literate is, like, soooo last century...

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    • Stuki Stuki on Dec 03, 2015

      @Lorenzo "Keeping the government off their backs", have been nothing but a quaint fairytale since the Sherman act. The game is to ensure government runs interference for them, by clinging, like leeches, to every potential competitor's back. As well as to ensure government makes mandatory every new, useless, widget that they have figured out how to build, lest some "regressive" still stuck in the pre-Incompetence era realizes his old Panther is still plenty good enough, if only some Chinese outfit would sell a non worn out replica for what he originally paid for it.

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.