Despite having a formal mission objective to “save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been shifting some of its focus toward automotive connectivity over the last few years. In fact, the agency has recently updated its guidance for vehicle cybersecurity – which was originally penned in 2016.
While this raises questions about the true role of the NHTSA, most government regulators have been flexing their muscles as new automotive technologies lacking clearly defined directives become increasingly commonplace. Besides, the safety agency has at least managed to tie its cybersecurity guidance (which is currently voluntary) to hacking concerns that could affect how the affected car behaves and how that might translate into physical harm for those on the road.
Per capita roadway fatalities have seen dramatic increases over the last two years and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has suggested that 2022 might actually end up being the deadliest year it has ever recorded in regard to the total body count. So there are a lot of people in politics that have concerned themselves with getting those numbers down. Unfortunately, the solutions are often to leverage more of the technology that data is starting to show might have gotten us into this predicament in the first place.
Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-NY) introduced just such a bill on August 12th, one that would effectively require all new vehicles to incorporate some form of speed-limiting technology by 2024 and direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish new rules for all transportation over 3,000 pounds. Considering that even teensy hatchbacks like the Mini Cooper already clock in dangerously close to that threshold, such a law would impact just about everything with four wheels that’s bigger than a Mazda MX-5 or Nissan Kicks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had a difficult time finding permanent leadership ever since Mark Rosekind resigned in 2017. But the Senate managed to confirm Steven Cliff as administrator in May of 2022, providing the agency with some welcome but short-lived stability. The NHTSA announced that its current boss would be leaving to join the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Friday.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed comprehensive rules changes regarding dealership advertising and how finance and insurance offices are handled. However, dealers, specifically the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), aren’t happy with these new ideas and have issued formal challenges to the regulatory scheme.
On July 6th, the European Union formally introduced laws that require auto manufacturers to install speed-limiting hardware on new vehicles. While speed governors have been around for years (and are becoming increasingly popular among certain manufacturers) the EU’s new rules actually require technology that takes things a step further by allowing cars to actively detect and then regulate the speed for any given road.
Goodyear has agreed to recall more than 173,000 intended for commercial delivery vehicles and RVs nearly two decades after the last one was manufactured. The company’s G159 tires have been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since December of 2017 and the recall comes in the wake of years of lawsuits alleging the rubber contributed to a series of fatal accidents dating back to 1998.
Despite no new claims having launched in years, court orders and settlement agreements delayed an order to make corporate data pertaining to the tire-buying public for five full years. The NHTSA didn’t even launch a formal investigation until late in 2017, followed by the recent announcement that the agency has pushed Goodyear into a recall for a tire that ended production during the Bush administration.
Stellantis has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to criminal conspiracy charges relating to emissions requirements on over 100,000 diesel-powered Ram and Jeep products sold in the United States. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was previously on the hook for $800 million in civil penalties over a so-called “defeat device” equipped to the automaker’s 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Allegations began in 2017 as regulators were hunting for compliance violations in the wake of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal from a couple of years earlier.
Last week, a group of Republican attorneys general decided to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to reinstate the waiver allowing California to set its own limitations on exhaust gasses and zero-emission vehicle mandates that would exceed federal standards.
The agency approved the waiver after it had been eliminated as part of the Trump administration’s fuel rollback on the grounds that it would create a schism within the industry by forcing automakers to produce vehicles that catered to the Californian market at the expense of products that might be appreciated in other parts of the country. However, Joe Biden’s EPA sees things differently and has aligned itself with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in giving the state more leeway to govern itself in regard to emissions policing.
Dan O’Dowd, the billionaire founder and CEO of Green Hills Software, has announced he’s running for the U.S. Senate and his campaign has a single platform — destroy Tesla Inc.
“Today I launched my campaign for U.S. Senate to make computers safe for humanity. The first danger I am tackling is @ElonMusk‘s reckless deployment of unsafe @Tesla Full Self-Driving cars on our roads,” O’Dowd tweeted on April 19th.
The tweet was accompanied by a 60-second advertisement that showed clips of various Tesla vehicles equipped with the contentious software nearly striking pedestrians and making other mistakes in traffic while a disembodied voice explains does its utmost to make you feel like Tesla is an evil company that wants its cars to kill people.
With the United States Department of Transportation having formally announced upgraded Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards starting in 2024, the Biden administration was quick to point out that the decision would likely make automobiles even more expensive than they already are. However, the caveat to this was that it also assumed fuel prices would come down as improved efficiencies reduced North America’s hunger for fuel.
This effectively undoes fueling rollbacks instituted under the Trump administration on the grounds of reducing costs to consumers and cutting regulatory red tape for a prospective future where fuel prices are reduced without the need to spur oil production. But what does that actually mean in terms of dollars and cents?
The Biden administration held another meeting with automotive executives about how to ensure electric vehicles go mainstream. But this time it included Elon Musk, who runs the most successful EV brand in the entire world.
After taking criticism for shunning the Tesla CEO in earlier meetings, senior officials held an event on Wednesday where he and other industry leaders could contribute as to how the United States should handle a national charging infrastructure and spur adoption rates. Despite Musk having often expressed a dissenting opinion in regard to President Biden’s strategy, the White House said that the meeting was productive and resulted in a “broad consensus that charging stations and vehicles need to be interoperable and provide a seamless user experience, no matter what car you drive or where you charge your EV.”
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has spent the last few years branching out from crash tests to focus on some of the safety tech in modern vehicles. However, this arguably peaked when the group realized that modern vehicles with higher ride heights were blinding everyone with their headlights and decided that might be something worth including in general safety testing. The IIHS has since preoccupied itself with advocating for additional electronic nannies and mimicking government regulators by suggesting vehicles should annoy drivers as often as possible.
This week, that manifested by way of the IIHS upgrading its safety program to include pressuring manufacturers into making seat belt reminders more irritating. While the federal standards specify that undone belts must include an audible signal that lasts between four and eight seconds, in conjunction with a minute-long warning light, the non-profit (supported by insurance companies) believes reminders should be longer and louder than outlined by existing requirements.
Ford and Stellantis are issuing recalls on some of their biggest models — figuratively and literally — this week. But the issues are quite a bit less dire than the repeat fire risks you’ve probably grown accustomed to. These defects will still allow customers to park their vehicle indoors without fear of awakening to a raging inferno emanating from the garage. Owners could probably even get away without having their cars fixed by the manufacturer until the relevant parts actually started breaking. Though why anybody would turn down free repairs on any component that didn’t pass muster is beyond me.
Impacted vehicles include 2021-22 model year Dodge Durango SUVs, 2019-22 MY Ram 2500 pickups, and 2019-22 MY Ram 3500 Chassis Cab trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 10,000 pounds, all with bunk electronic stability control (ESC) warning lights. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 375,000 vehicles should be affected. Meanwhile, Ford is only looking at 175,000 units of the 2021 F-150 pickup with bum wiper motors.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has opted to reinstate California’s ability to set tailpipe rules and zero-emission vehicle mandates that are more rigid than federal standards. After quarreling for years over the Trump administration’s decision to roll back Obama-era fueling standards deemed untenable, the Golden State now has the ability to once again make harder for its citizens by forcing them to purchase the kind of vehicles it feels they should be driving — rather than leaving it up to the individual that’s actually buying the car.
Though it might not matter at this point. While California effectively served as a defensive shield against proposed fueling rollbacks while Trump was in office, the Biden administration strategy is broadly in line with its agenda of making gasoline unappetizing to consumers to ensure a speedy transition to electric vehicles. California doesn’t even want people to have access to gas-powered lawn care equipment. The state has effectively served as a test case for Build Back Better since before the phrase passed through the lips of a single politician.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it had finalized a rule permitting automakers to install adaptive driving beam headlights on modern vehicles. Despite having pioneered automatic headlamps in the 1950s, the United States has been hesitant to implement automatic leveling and directional beams. In fact, imported vehicles equipped with adaptive headlights have been modified to adhere to regional safety laws for decades.
But the implementation of light-emitting diodes, high-intensity discharge lamps, and even upgrades to tungsten-halogen bulbs has made forward illumination substantially brighter. If you’ve been driving a while, you’ve probably noticed increased glare from oncoming vehicles (especially if you’re in an automobile that’s situated closer to the pavement). Directional beams are supposed to help alleviate the problem and have been getting more attention from U.S. safety regulators. However, that’s only part of the reason why the NHTSA suddenly feels better about approving them.