On January 8, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its December report outlining safety defects and non-compliance notices. Many defects involving software were included in the December report, including, but not limited to:
- “Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC (Land Rover) is recalling certain 2020 Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque vehicles. A software error may cause the instrument cluster to randomly alternate the speedometer and odometer units between Miles Per Hour (MPH) and Kilometers Per Hour (KM/H) without driver input to the display unit…The changing displays may cause driver distraction or confusion and possibly result in excessive speed, which can increase the risk of a crash. Land Rover will notify owners, and dealers will update the vehicle software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 29, 2021…Land Rover's number for this recall is N516.”
- “Subaru of America, Inc. (Subaru) is recalling certain 2020 Legacy and Outback vehicles equipped with "high" grade and "mid" grade multimedia navigation. The August 2020 over-the-air software update may have timed out without completing the installation, corrupting the data, and causing the rearview display to shutoff intermittently…The intermittent loss of the rearview image reduces the driver's visibility and increases the risk of crash. Subaru will notify owners, and dealers will reprogram the software and, if necessary, replace the Cockpit Control Module, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 22, 2021…Subaru's number for this recall is WRH-20.”
- “Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain 2018-2020 Accord Sedan, Accord Hybrid, and 2019- 2020 Insight vehicles. A software error may cause intermittent or continuous disruptions in communication between the Body Control Module (BCM) and other components. This may result in malfunctions of various systems such as the windshield wipers and defroster, rearview camera, exterior lights, audible warning of a stopped vehicle, and power window operation…Various system malfunctions such as inoperative windshield wipers, defroster, rearview camera, or exterior lighting can increase the risk of a crash. Honda will notify owners, and dealers will update the BCM software, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 18, 2021…Honda's number for this recall is X95.”
- For more information: Safety Defect/Noncompliance Notices Received During December 2020
Nissan is recalling over 354,000 2013-2015 Pathfinder SUVs for the second time due to defective brake lights which get stuck in the “on” position.
- “Due to the location of the stop lamp switch on the brake pedal, a chattering condition may occur in the stop lamp relay. Under certain driving conditions, such as frequent stop-and-go driving with repeated brake pedal input, the chattering can degrade the relay contact service life. Over time, this may lead to the stop lamp relay sticking in the ON position.”
- “As a result of this condition, customers may experience one or more of the following symptoms: limited engine power (brake override), continuous stop lamp illumination, the ability to shift the vehicle out of park without depressing the brake pedal, and/or the engine starting without depressing the brake pedal. These symptoms could potentially increase the risk of a crash or rollaway.”
- The Part 573 submission for this recall can be accessed here: Part 573 Safety Recall Report
- For more information: Nissan recalls 354,000 Pathfinder SUVs worldwide for brake light problem
On January 27, Tesla announced its plans to remodel the interior of the Model S vehicle which included a rectangular steering wheel design. NHTSA voiced concern over the rectangular design including the design’s impact to vehicle operability.
- “The steering wheel has been cut down to a pared-back rectangle which Tesla calls the yoke, similar to what we’ve seen Tesla show before on the second-generation Roadster. That has simple controls built-in – a pair of scroll wheels flanked by buttons for indicators, lights, and multimedia control – with a dedicated 12.3-inch driver instrumentation display behind.”
- “The yoke steering wheel is, visually speaking, very cool and more than a bit retro. Practically speaking, however, it’s also risky when it comes to making those hand-over-hand turns you may encounter when doing a U-turn or trying to parallel park.”
- For more information:
In January 2021, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) updated a report titled “Motor Vehicle Safety: Issues for Congress” where it highlighted automotive recalls among other vehicle safety items for Congress to consider in the replacement of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) which is set to expire later this year.
In December, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics issued the 26th edition of its Transportation Statistics Annual Report (2020). This report identifies trends related to advancements in vehicle technology, ownership and safety.:
- “Automated vehicle development is advancing across all transportation modes, with 38 jurisdictions permitting testing of driverless highway vehicles in 2018, more widespread autonomous port systems and ships, and the use of Positive Train Control systems.”
- “The share of households with personal vehicles continues to rise, reaching about 91 percent of all households and more than 98 percent of households with workers in 2018.”
- “Between 2010 and 2019, transportation deaths rose to a high of 39,751 in 2016 and then fell for 3 consecutive years to 38,203 in 2019. 2011 had the lowest number of transportation fatalities since 1949 at 34,568. An estimated 2.73 million people were injured from transportation accidents in 2018.”
- “Given the fact that only 10 percent of passenger vehicle occupants do not use safety belts, it is notable that 47 percent of those killed in 2018 highway crashes were unrestrained compared to 13 percent among those who used restraints.”
- “Speeding coupled with drinking is often a common factor in highway crashes. Some 37 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes were found to have been drinking compared to 15 percent among non-speeding drivers in fatal crashes.”
- For more information: Transportation Statistics Annual Report 2020
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that even small increases in speed limits significantly increased the risk of injury or death to drivers and encouraged the use of engineering and traffic surveys when setting speed limits.
- “Drivers often travel faster than posted speed limits, but when officials raise limits to match travel speeds, people still go faster. Today, 41 states allow 70 mph or higher speeds on some roadways, including eight states that have maximum speeds of 80 mph or more.”
- “We conducted these crash tests to assess the effect of speeds on drivers and learned that a small increase could make a big difference on the harm to a human body.”
- “At the 40 mph impact speed, there was minimal intrusion into the driver’s space. But at the 50 mph impact speed, there was noticeable deformation of the driver side door opening, dashboard and foot area. At 56 mph, the vehicle interior was significantly compromised, with the dummy’s sensors registering severe neck injuries and a likelihood of fractures to the long bones in the lower leg.”
- “Speed limits should not be raised or lowered only to manipulate traffic volume on a particular roadway. States are urged to use engineering and traffic surveys when setting maximum speed limits.”
- For more information: New crash tests show modest speed increases can have deadly consequences
A recent blog post from Warner Norcross + Judd provides considerations for suppliers if a warranty claim or cost recovery demand is received from a customer.
- “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the likelihood of warranty claims, given the chaos that OEMs and suppliers have endured while trying to balance full production capacity amid product and labor shortages, strict government orders and other supply chain disruptions. These challenges, coupled with OEMs looking to offset their financial strife, may result in even more warranty claims in the future.”
- For more information: The Magic Words of a Warranty Dispute
Upcoming Events – Automotive Recall and Transportation Safety
- Tuesday, February 23, 2021: Ford’s 2021 Trends Report Explores How Consumers are Adapting to Life During a Pandemic presented by the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA)
- Tuesday-Thursday, April 6-8, 2021: 5th Annual Conference and Exhibition ADAS Sensors 2021 presented by Microtech Ventures
- Thursday, March 18, 2021: “Rethinking Our View of Mobility” with Magna CEO Swamy Kotagiri presented by the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA)
- Wednesday, April 14, 2021: 8th Annual State of Automotive Recalls presented by the Society of Automotive Analysts
- Monday-Wednesday, April 26-28, 2021: Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities
- Saturday-Wednesday, September 11-15, 2021: Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) 2021 Annual Meeting presented by GHSA