Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Safety , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Kia , Nissan , Subaru , Toyota The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a number of vehicles for potentially faulty side airbags , according to The Detroit News . The airbags may have been manufactured with an ineffective mix of inflation gasses, which could leave the bags flat in the event of a collision. The defective hardware has found its way into models from Toyota , Honda , Subaru and Nissan , and has resulted in the recall of around 2,700 units so far. If NHTSA finds the defective airbags in other vehicles, that number could swell substantially. The defective airbag inflators were manufactured by a Autoliv, a Swedish supplier. According to the report, Autoliv shipped a total of 10,500 faulty inflators to manufacturers as well as two other airbag makers. Chrysler , Ford , General Motors , Kia and Suzuki all purchased the defective parts, though it’s unclear exactly which models were equipped with the Autoliv pieces. Ford, GM and Chrysler have all said their airbag inflators work differently than those used by other automakers. The companies haven’t seen any failures in extensive testing.
On January 31, 2012, Toyota filed a Defect Information Report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating it will conduct a voluntary safety recall of approximately 427 – 2011 model year RAV4 vehicles to replace the side curtain airbag(s).
Over the past two years, major government investigations of Toyota vehicles and technologies undertaken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and engineers at the National Aeronautics and Safety Administration (NASA) have been clear and unequivocal in their conclusions: there are no real-world scenarios in which Toyota electronics can cause unintended acceleration. Last week, a report by the National Academies of Sciences put another nail in the coffin of this discredited theory, concluding that all the data available indicated that there was no electronic or software problem in Toyota vehicles and that NHTSA was justified in closing its investigation.
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.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) National Research Council will release today its independent review entitled “The Safety Promise and Challenges of Automotive Electronics: Insights from Unintended Acceleration.” The comprehensive 162-page report was commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to explore the broad issue of claims of unintended acceleration (“UA”) and their aftermath.
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.