Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Technology , Toyota “We couldn’t find anything, but we’re still blaming the car.” That’s the gist of the statement from a National Academy of Sciences panel headed by New Jersey Institute of Technology physics professor Louis Lanzerotti. The NAS supports U.S. regulators shutting down investigation of Toyota unintended acceleration incidents without finding electronic faults that would cause the behavior. However, at the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to call for further oversight and more study to attempt to rule out electronic causes. About the only thing that’s concrete is that crashes happened. To be fair, electronic faults can be tricky to pin down, even with far simpler systems than the networked-computing setups that modern cars universally employ. That’s why event data recording is already part of many automotive systems, along with a high degree of redundancy and fault tolerance. Many carmakers also already program engine management to douse the throttle with brake application in certain situations. Few are more interested in catching intermittent, potentially catastrophic problems than the companies building the cars, and most have already implemented the systems these organs of the state are calling for. Even so, the NAS and NHTSA appear keen to write these tendencies into law.
Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Safety , Cadillac , Toyota , Fiat The 2012 Toyota Camry and 2012 Cadillac CTS have joined the ranks of vehicles that have earned the coveted five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . The vehicles mark the 15th and 16th models to nab the top rating under the tougher NHTSA crash test standards enacted for 2011 models. Last year, the 2011 Camry took home four stars in the evaluations. Toyota reminds us that the 2012 Camry is built with high-strength steel to help protect the passenger cell against deflection in the event of an accident, and that the vehicle comes standard with 10 airbags, all of which contribute to the new model’s superior score. The Fiat 500 , meanwhile, didn’t fare so well under the range of crash evaluations. The tiny hatchback collected just three stars overall. The side-impact test was particularly cruel to the Italian compact, with NHTSA awarding the vehicle two stars in that category – a somewhat surprising result considering that Fiat went to the trouble of redesigning the 500 for U.S. crash test compatibility. The 500 finds itself in the company of the Dodge Caliber and outgoing Ford Escape as the only models tested so far to receive the three-star designation.