NHTSA Probing Nissan Rogues That Brake for No Reason
Nissan added automatic emergency braking as standard equipment on eight popular models for the 2018 model year, looking to get a jump on the pact forged in 2016 that calls for mandatory AEB on all cars and light trucks by 2020.
That pact, covering 20 automakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is already bearing fruit. Just last month, the NHTSA congratulated a slew of automakers, including Nissan, for including the safety feature on the majority of their vehicles.
One month later, and the NHTSA finds itself investigating Nissan for a potential fault with its AEB system.
The federal agency opened an investigation on April 8th, focusing on the 2017 and 2018 Nissan Rogue crossover, after being alerted by the Center for Auto Safety. The defect petition filed by CAS contains 87 complaints submitted to regulators in recent months, with the safety group calling for a formal probe into the issue.
It got its wish. According to the regulator, the petition contains 10 specific complaints “related to the AEB system engaging with no obstruction in the path of the vehicle.”
CAS finds fault in Nissan’s response to the complaints, saying the automaker treated it as a service issue, not a safety one. The NHTSA report states “the manufacturer is aware of the alleged issue due to issuing a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) and launching two “Quality Actions,” and initiating a “Customer Service Initiative” in relation to it. The petitioner alleges that Nissan’s actions do not represent an adequate long-term solution to the problem.”
As with most other investigations, the NHTSA probe aims to determine whether a recall is required.
The probe covers 674,472 Rogues sold for the 2017 and 2018 model years. While no known accidents or injuries are associated with the issue, some of the complaints cite close calls.
“This has led to 2 near misses,” one 2018 Rogue owner wrote. “Once, the car just stopped in the road. I thought it might have misinterpreted a snow pile. Then, driving over a train crossing, the car just stopped. Luckily I was able to get it moving before a train came. Very scary!”
The customer service initiative launched earlier this year called attention to an update Nissan made available for the AEB system, but CAS claims it downplays the threat to public safety. It’s a voluntary update available to those whose Rogues are under warranty, but there’s no guarantee all owners will take Nissan up on the offer. A recall would make it mandatory.
“As always, Nissan will continue to work collaboratively with NHTSA and Transport Canada on all matters of product safety,” Nissan said in a statement reported by Automotive News.
AEB is relatively new technology, and faults can be expected. Sometimes a system works too well and identifies objects as dangers when it shouldn’t. The overseas-market Suzuki Jimny recently ran into this trouble, with the AEB wonkiness only detectable on twisty roads bordered by a guardrail. Still, it’s up to the automaker to ensure the public feels safe having this type of automated intervention in their vehicle.
[Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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"Sometimes a system works too well and identifies objects as dangers when it shouldn’t." In the real world this is known as 'not working well' or simply 'broken'.