Tag Archive | "NHTSA"

Senate Close to Confirming New NHTSA Chief


The Senate is nearing an agreement to confirm the next head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported The Detroit News.

National Transportation Safety board member Mark Rosekind’s nomination was “hotlined” Friday — an informal request to members of the Senate to agree to allow a nomination or resolution to be approved by the Senate without debate or amendment.

The Senate is expected to be in session at most another day or two. Senate aides think Rosekind will get through and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, said earlier this week he expected Rosekind to be approved.

NHTSA has been without a permanent administrator as it faces a record-setting nearly 60 million vehicles recalled this year. The agency is also facing scrutiny about how it holds automakers accountable and ensures that unsafe cars are quickly repaired.

On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Mark Rosekind to head NHTSA on a voice vote.

Rosekind, a former NASA scientist and expert on human fatigue, has been a member of the National Transportation Safety Board since 2010. He has been the on-scene board member for many significant crashes, including an April incident that killed 10 when a FedEx truck slammed into a bus carrying high school students in Northern California.

Last week, Rosekind vowed to boost the agency’s personnel and technology in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Rosekind said if automakers don’t act on safety issues, “NHTSA needs to be the enforcer.”

He acknowledges that work needs to be done and the challenges are “tremendous.”

“We need to increase — not just the people, but also the technology,” Rosekind said. He raised concerns about the “slowness across all of the (auto) recalls.”

The highway safety agency has come under harsh criticism for not doing more. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said last week NHTSA “is neither feared nor respected” by automakers.

“These companies are way more afraid of a civil lawsuit than they are of NHTSA,” she said. “If you are not feared and respected, then you cannot do a good job policing the safety of automobiles.”

McCaskill questioned if the administration has been taking NHTSA’s job seriously.

On Oct. 31, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx confirmed he’s ordered a review of how regulators handled a recall of millions of vehicles by 10 major automakers for Takata Corp. air bags linked to four deaths in Honda vehicles since 2009.

Senators from both parties have faulted the White House for leaving NHTSA’s top slot vacant for nearly a year, after David Strickland resigned.

Last week, Rosekind recounted his own personal history with auto safety. His father, a San Francisco police officer, was killed in 1958 when a driver went through a red light.

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NHTSA Urging GM Vehicle Owners to Get Faulty Ignition Switches Fixed


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that General Motors now has enough parts to fix faulty ignition switches in mid-2000s model cars tied to a massive and deadly recall, reported MLive.

So the federal agency is urging owners of the affected cars to get the 1 million or so cars with the faulty ignition switches in them to get them fixed immediately.

Many GM dealers will help owners fix the vehicles after work and on weekends.

“Until the affected vehicle is fixed, owners should follow all of the interim safety steps advised by GM and keep in mind that the use of a single key is not a long term solution to the this serious safety problem,” NHTSA said Tuesday in a statement.

GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles, including 2.2 million in the U.S., affected by the ignition switch. The recall includes 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2007-2010 Saturn Skys, 2005-2011 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstices, and 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models.

The faulty ignition switches at the heart of the unprecedented recall can move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event, including rough roads. If the key turns to one of those positions, officials say the front air bags may not work if there’s a crash.

Thus far, GM has repaired almost 60 percent of the affected cars under the recall.

Meanwhile, he number of approved death compensation claims related to the recall has edged up to 36.

The claims were approved by a fund set up by GM to compensate victims of a defective part in mid-to-late-2000s model cars that has led to a massive recall and a federal investigation. The number of approved claims stood at 19 in mid-September and had grown steadily to 35 last month.

The victim compensation fund is being overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington, D.C. attorney who oversaw similar compensation facilities for disasters such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The GM ignition switch claims facility released its latest report Monday.

The deadline for filing a compensation claim has been extended to Jan. 31.

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U.S. Auto Regulator Seeks Nationwide Recall of Takata Air Bags


The U.S. auto safety regulator has told Japanese supplier Takata Corp and five automakers to expand nationwide a regional recall of potentially lethal air bags, increasing pressure on the industry to move faster in a growing scandal, reported Reuters.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also scolded Takata for what it called “an unwillingness to move forward” on a nationwide recall, and said the company needs to be open with the U.S. public about the risks of its air bags.

Takata and automakers have so far taken a targeted approach in recalling U.S. vehicles with air bags that can rupture upon deployment, shooting shrapnel into the car. Five fatalities, including four in the United States, have been linked to the air bags.

The U.S. regional recall has involved 4.1 million cars in hot and humid areas where the air bags may be prone to fail, including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and parts of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. Most of those cars are made by Honda Motor, Takata’s biggest client.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman declined to estimate how many more cars would be included in a nationwide recall.

Shares in Takata dropped by as much as 7.8 percent in Tokyo on Wednesday, and have now slid 64 percent this year to 5-1/2-year lows.

Takata has already set aside more than $750 million for recall-related costs, but Takayuki Atake, manager of credit research at SMBC Nikko Securities, warned a national recall would need more provisioning and raised the risk of a deeper credit rating downgrade than initially expected.

Japan Credit Rating Agency has put Takata’s single-A rating on negative watch. “However, risk of a (three-notch) downgrade to BBB would increase if the expanded recall leads to further erosion of shareholder equity and/or a negative impact on Takata’s capacity for generating profits and cash flow,” Atake wrote in a report.

Takata, NHTSA, Honda and Chrysler have been called to testify at a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday, where Takata will be represented by Hiroshi Shimizu, a 36-year company veteran and senior vice president of global quality assurance.

MILLIONS MORE?

Around 16 million cars with Takata air bags have been recalled worldwide over the past six years, with more than 10 million of those in the United States.

NHTSA’s Friedman said the recall expansion was prompted by an August incident involving a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina, outside the area of the regional recalls.

The agency ordered Ford, Mazda Motor, Honda, Chrysler and BMW to send notifications for replacement driver-side air bags to consumers quickly. “We will begin a process both with Takata and the automakers to force them to recall all affected” vehicles, Friedman said.

Ford, Honda, Mazda and Chrysler said they would continue to cooperate with NHTSA and plan to evaluate their call for a national recall. But each stopped short of saying they would expand beyond the current set of cars they are fixing. BMW is already recalling air bags nationally.

Spokesman Alby Berman said Takata would cooperate with regulators and automakers if an expanded recall is required, but noted that “of almost 1,000 passenger and driver inflators from outside the high humidity areas that have been evaluated to date, none have ruptured.”

“Takata is concerned that a national recall could potentially divert replacement air bags from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk,” he said in a statement.

It’s unclear just how long it could take to replace so many air bags. NHTSA said it is pressuring Takata to ramp up production of replacement parts and has said it will explore using other suppliers to help with production if needed.

Takata has said it would add two production lines at its Monclova, Mexico plant in January to make replacement air bag inflators. Workers there have told Reuters that a single line has a typical quota of around 200 inflators an hour, meaning it could take five months to make 1 million inflators working around the clock on two lines, five days a week.

NOT ENOUGH

Auto safety advocates and lawmakers said NHTSA’s latest move may still not capture the scope of the problem, is too late, and may not be enforceable.

Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said they were pleased NHTSA recognized the “national scope” of the problem,” but said the call to replace driver-side air bags should be expanded to also include passenger air bags.

NHTSA agreed in June to allow automakers to do a regional recall and use their discretion in deciding how and when to notify customers and replace faulty parts, resulting in confusion for car owners receiving mixed messages.

Friedman criticized Takata for resisting when NHTSA this week called on it to issue a defect notification nationwide for air bags of a certain design. “Takata’s initial response was an unwillingness to move forward, and frankly, that is one of the reasons we are talking to you today, because I believe everyone needs to understand that Takata needs to act,” he said.

Asked about Friedman’s comment, Takata said: “We have been dealing sincerely with U.S. authorities and … will continue to do so, prioritizing customers’ safety.”

NHTSA also addressed lingering confusion over what exactly makes some air bags explode. It said it ordered Takata to provide under oath documents and information on the propellant used in newly designed air bag inflators, after Takata recently said it had changed the chemical mix of its inflators.

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Takata Senior VP to Testify Before U.S. Senate Committee


Representatives of Takata Corp, Chrysler Group Llc, Honda Motor Co Ltd and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will testify before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday to answer questions about the dangers posed by air bags supplied by Takata, reported Reuters.

The final witness list, provided by a Senate aide, includes Hiroshi Shimizu, senior vice president of global quality assurance for Takata, Scott Kunselman, senior vice president of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance for Chrysler Group, Rick Schostek, executive vice president of Honda North America, and David Friedman, deputy administrator for the NHTSA, the federal agency that oversees the auto industry.

Stephanie Erdman, a victim of the Takata air bag defect, will also testify.

Over the past six years, at least five deaths have been linked to air bags supplied by Japanese safety equipment maker Takata. It was found that the air bags could rupture upon deployment, spraying metal shards inside the car. More than 17 million cars have been recalled worldwide, including more than 11 million in the United States.

The hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will begin at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) on Thursday.

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NHTSA Urges Owners of 4.7 Million GM and Foreign Cars to get Defective Airbags Fixed


DETROIT, MI – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging owners of some 4.7 million General Motors, Honda, Mazda, BMW and Nissan cars to have defective airbags made by Japanese auto parts company Takata Corp. replaced immediately. The full list of affected vehicles is below, reported Michigan Live.

NHTSA began a probe of the faulty airbags in June. According to the International Business Times, the airbags could rupture and spray pieces of metal into the driver and front-seat passenger in an accident.

NHTSA said it expects areas where there have already been regional recalls for the airbags, including Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii, to be most affected.

Consumers who are uncertain whether their vehicle is affected can search their car’s VIN number at www.safecar.gov. Most of the affected cars are in the early-to-mid 2000s model years.

Based in Tokyo, Takata manufactures seat belts, airbags, steering wheels, interior trims, and child restraint systems at 56 plants in 20 countries. The company had $5.2 billion in annual sales in its most recent fiscal year, ended March 31, 2014.

The list of affected cars follows.

Affected Vehicles, by Manufacturer , Impacted by CY 2013 and 2014 Recalls Involving Takata Airbags:

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

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Chrysler Recalls More Than 900,000 Vehicles Globally in Two Actions


Chrysler Group on Thursday announced two global recalls of more than 900,000 cars and SUVs combined for problems that could cause fires, reported Reuters.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is recalling about 470,000 cars and SUVs globally from model years 2011 through 2014 and equipped with a 3.6 liter engine and a 160 amp alternator, according to the company and documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The alternator may suddenly fail, possibly causing a stall or fire and increasing the risk of a crash, according to the NHTSA documents.

The second recall covers about 437,000 Jeep Wrangler SUVs globally from model years 2011 through 2013 because of a fire risk, according to the NHTSA documents. They said water in the exterior heated power mirror electrical connector could cause an electrical short.

Chrysler said it was unaware of any injuries resulting from either problem. The automaker said one accident might have stemmed from the first problem, but had no reports of fire. It was not aware of any accidents from the second problem.

The repair for the first recall is still under development, according to the NHTSA documents. Chrysler plans to begin notifying owners of the recall on Nov. 28, according to the NHTSA documents.

Models affected in this recall include the Chrysler 300 sedan, Dodge Challenger and Charger cars, and Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. An estimated 434,581 of the recalled vehicles are in the United States, 16,080 in Canada, 2,335 in Mexico and 17,000 outside North America, Chrysler said.

The repair for the Wrangler recall, which should begin on Dec. 5, includes moving the exterior mirror power feed to a separate connector and adding a water shield, according to the NHTSA documents.

In that recall, an estimated 313,236 of the SUVs are in the United States, 39,627 in Canada, 5,685 in Mexico and 78,369 outside of North America, Chrysler said.

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