By on October 14, 2016

Burning Car by NathanWert

There’s a single BMW X3 out there that could burst into flames at any moment.

That, Mercedes-Benz offers EV charging with no wires or plugs, Toyota pours staff into Texas, and Honda wants its Civics to stand still … after the break!

By OSX (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

BMW recalls one X3 to prevent a fire

Apparently, there is a 2017 BMW X3 xDrive 28i that left the factory with a defective electronic power steering control unit. The supplier seems to have neglected to make the necessary welds on the contact pins and the resistance could eventually create enough heat to cause a fire.

This “thermal incident” can occur even when the vehicle is parked with the ignition off.

The supplier notified BMW and the company has enacted a voluntary recall of the vehicle in question. How the supplier discovered the problem and why this only affects a single vehicle is a bit of a mystery. Let’s hope the owner is notified before they find a smoldering heap in their driveway or their garage burns down.

Mercedes benz S CLASS SEDAN

2017 Mercedes-Benz S550E is the first EV to offer wireless charging

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz S550E is expected to add wireless charging to its long list of options when it receives a mid-cycle facelift next year. This technically makes the S550E the first plug-in hybrid that you don’t actually have to plug-in.

According to Motor Trend, the technology is sourced from Qualcomm and functions similarly to the wireless charging devices used for smartphones and laptops.

Owners will be able to install a pad on their parking spot that will align with a pad on the bottom of the vehicle when parked. The parking pad contains multiple coils capable of generating a magnetic field that recharges the vehicle over time.

However, the field also generates heat in a similar way to a microwave. Anything that comes between the charging pad and the vehicle would suffer the same fate as a gas station burrito, minus being eaten. To sidestep people barbecuing their pets, vehicles will be equipped with sensors to detect if something is positioned within the charging field and shut the system down if need be.

Toyota Texas HQ

Toyota hiring an extra 1,000 employees in Texas

Yesterday, Toyota announced that it will hire 1,000 staff members for its new U.S. base, still under construction, near Dallas.

“We will be hiring more than 1,000 new team members across numerous functions, and our hope is that they will help us in Toyota’s mission to address mobility challenges for everyone, now and in the future,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North America Chief Executive.

The new HQ will occupy 100 acres of land and require more than 1,200 tons of limestone, twelve acres of glass, and seventeen thousand tons of steel to complete.

2016 Honda Civic white

Honda recalls 350,000 Civics due to parking brake glitch

American Honda is recalling approximately 350,000 Civics from the 2016 model year to fix an issue with the vehicles’ electronic parking brake. This news comes one day after the very similar brake-related recall of 2016 and 2017 Prius models.

The automaker explained the software controlling the vehicle stability control unit could prevent the parking brake from functioning when it is applied immediately after turning the vehicle ignition off. While no accidents or injuries have been reported, the EPB malfunction may cause a parked Civic to roll away and into whatever might be downhill from it.

Honda will start notifying affected Civic owners in November and dealers will install a software update free of charge.

[Images: Nathan Wert/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0); OSX/Wikimedia Commons; Mercedes Benz; Toyota; American Honda]

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22 Comments on “TTAC News Roundup: BMW Hunts a Tinderbox, Mercedes-Benz Wants to Stop Possibly Microwaving Cats, Toyota Taps Texans, and Hondas Are on a Roll...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    To sidestep people barbecuing their pets, vehicles will be equipped with sensors to detect if something is positioned within the charging field and shut the system down if need be.

    So then it will never actually charge? Too many stray cats, squirrels, etc in the average urban/suburban environment. That charger will be about as useful as screen door on a submarine.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The average owner of one of these Mercedes will most likely be parking it in a garage, you don’t want that mat lying in the driveway for many reasons. Yes a squirrel or cat may sneak into the garage when the door is open. I would also expect the charging to resume once the item is removed or removes itself.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Hopefully MB will have some convenient way to defeat the system. I eagerly await for the hilarity to ensue!

      Especially after a rash of McMansions burn down and contribute to the air quality problems.

      Not to mention the psychological issues of having to deal with the fact that Mr. Fluffy the family pet had an affinity for the heating sensation caused by the cordless recharging and blew the hell up after bursting in flame.

      So much comedy in tragedy!

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    BMW on fire. Some one badly upside on a lease?

    Spontaneous Financial Combustion!

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Has there ever been a single vehicle recall in history before? That’s crazy! I wonder if there was a worker who realized they’d walked away unfinished or something, or if some sort of internal video review or something tracked down the issue.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Inductive charging is far less effective than a direct connection and rapidly gets worse as the distance between the transmitter and receiver increases. It might work if the floor pad and the vehicle pad could be brought into contact. I don’t see it working at all well at typical ground clearance distances. The battery in an electric automobile is far bigger than the batteries in phones and computers.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      That was exactly my thought as well.

      There should be a physical connection. My Roomba can position itself to make physical contact with its charging station, so cars should be able to do the same thing. With cars, I’d assume the charging station moves to accommodate the stationary car. Maybe some sort of robotic arm fastened to the house plugs into the car when the car is within a few feet.

  • avatar
    never_follow

    So the electronic e-brake is turning out to be a bit of a dud… who knew!

    Even in salted to death Ontario, I’ve only ever had one cable temporarily seize on me, and after 5 minutes of idling it let go.

    A mechanical brake doesn’t rely on anything but the mechanism itself, I’m not sure it was the best thing to electrify and automate. If it’s a space issue they can always have a foot brake…

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Exactly. Why make a complicated solution to a simple device, when there is no problem that requires solving?
      If automakers can’t even make a parking brake that works flawlessly, how will they ever make self-driving cars?

      (Siri: “I don’t understand ‘SEMI AT TWELVE O’CLOCK’. Would you like me to do a web search on ‘SEMI AT TWELVE O’CLOCK’?”]

      • 0 avatar
        Olyar15

        Real estate. A mechanical handbrake takes up a lot of room in the center console.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          Because it works reliably, the mechanical handbrake is well worth the space.

          I’m all for new tech, but for me to consider new tech successful, it needs to solve more problems than it creates.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            The electronic parking brake probably is easier and faster to install than a mechanical setup, with no adjustments needed. That saves assembly time and money. Eventually all the components will be plug-in, including the steering wheel.

            Drivers will be at the mercy of wiring harnesses and connectors, and only factory trained dealer mechanics with special equipment will be able to work on them. After a few years, replacement parts will no longer be made, and cars will be junked after the first electrical gremlins take over.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      No, just Civic and Prius. Hate to start a Japanese conspiracy but the electronic brake has been out since 2012.

    • 0 avatar

      “So the electronic e-brake is turning out to be a bit of a dud”

      Nope, it’s been deployed on millions of vehicles over many brands since the mid-2000s without any or many issues. It’s not going anywhere, and using this one-off software glitch as a sign that it doesn’t work well on the multitude of other cars its employed on is ridiculous.

      “Even in salted to death Ontario, I’ve only ever had one cable temporarily seize on me”

      Good for you, that’s not been my family or friends’ experience. I grew up in Ontario, and every single one of our cars (most of them were manuals too, so it got lots of use) had issues with seized parking brake cables. Honda, Acura, Mazda, VW, Nissan, it didn’t matter, we had to deal with it at some point, and it was frustrating.

  • avatar
    frozenman

    I blame electronic parking brakes on the whims and desires of the fairer sex.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Yeah, because women hate yanking on a stick.

      Freezing ain’t good for brain cells.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Hmmm…. TTAC published an article in 2011 that Saudi Arabia and America like the same cars:

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/best-selling-cars-around-the-globe-saudi-arabia-and-america-like-the-same-cars/

      Over in Saudi Arabia, the fairer sex is not allowed to drive. And yet, they have cars with electronic parking brakes.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Like drive by wire throttles, electrically operated parking brakes can enable other features. For instance the one on my Golf R optionally sets itself on park, while also providing anti-roll, anti-creep and hill-hold capabilities. These all work really well in actual use.

    On the minus side the parking brake works by incorporating an electric motor, toothed belt drive, gear reduction system and a screw jack into each rear brake caliper. Replacing the rear brake pads requires cycling the powered parking brake system using an electronic diagnostic tool. Should a new rear caliper ever be required it would be brutally expensive. The system is totally enclosed within the rear caliper housing, so with a bit of luck it should last.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    Hmmm, weren’t people freaking out about electromagnetic fields from CRTs and overhead power lines and hair dryers not too long ago?

    MB wireless charging, just ducky..

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