Stout's Automotive Recall Accelerator brings together unique and important news, analysis, and insights related to automotive recall and vehicle safety for stakeholders across the industry.

June 14, 2021

Recent Developments

Stout continues to see examples of recalls that are initiated prior to the submission of field events (e.g. deaths, injuries, warranty claims, etc.). Such examples reflect the efforts of vehicle manufacturers to identify potential defects earlier and implement responses to identified defects. In April, a vehicle manufacturer announced that it is issuing a voluntary safety recall due to a tie rod defect, which can cause loss of steering for nearly 18,000 model year 2021-2022 vehicles. The recall was initiated after quality concerns were identified at an axle assembly plant.

  • "Suspect bolts used to assemble Detroit front axle assemblies have a lengthwise 'seam' defect potentially leading to bolt failure."
  • "Single bolt fracture may lead to decrease in steering response and both bolts failing would lead to complete loss of steering/directional control of the vehicle."
  • Access the Part 573 submission for this recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posted "Tips for Increasing Recall Completion Rates." NHTSA identified several factors that should be considered when developing a recall strategy such as age, cost, dealer relationships, and convenience. NHTSA also noted its commitment to collaborate with the automotive industry and to share best practices.

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the NHTSA identified autonomous technology that can aid first responders and allow for continuation of essential activities. The letter outlines examples of efforts implemented to date, including but not limited to:

  • "EasyMile has partnered with Westminster, Colo., parks department to make deliveries from the city's temporary food distribution center to a local food pantry. EasyMile is using its EZ10 autonomous vehicle to make the deliveries to the Growing Home pantry, which was experiencing difficulties transporting items."
  • "Nuro has partnered with CVS Pharmacy to deliver prescriptions and essentials across three zip codes in Houston starting in June, first with modified conventional vehicles, and later with Nuro's fully autonomous R2 passengerless delivery vehicle."
  • "Kodiak Robotics, a California-based developer of self-driving truck technology, has increased the number of commercial loads its safety driver-operated test trucks are carrying on the Dallas-Houston freight lane to help meet demand for critical goods."
  • Access the NHTSA's letter to stakeholders, "Coronavirus: Innovative Automotive Technologies." 

In May, the NHTSA announced the launch of an influencer campaign to educate drivers on advanced driver assistance systems. Safety videos were created featuring Jason Fenske, the "Engineering Explained" YouTube channel owner.

Research

The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a report regarding "Potential Alternative Methodology for Evaluating Flammability of Interior Automotive Materials." This research was conducted to "improve the repeatability and reproducibility of evaluating the flammability of interior materials that are difficult to test per Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of interior materials, (e.g., rigid non-planar materials, parts smaller than the FMVSS No. 302 specimen size, etc.). The goal was to identify an alternative, existing, small-scale fire test method for which FMVSS No. 302 equivalent pass/fail criteria can be established."

Insights

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that the rate of pedestrian deaths from vehicles in 2020 was the highest reported in history, despite the decrease in driving due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The GHSA hypothesizes that this increase was caused by increased speeding, distracted driving, and drivers under the influence.

  • "GHSA projects there were 6,721 pedestrian deaths in 2020 – a 4.8% increase from the 6,412 fatalities reported by SHSOs the year before. Factoring in a 13.2% decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020, the pedestrian fatality rate was 2.3 per billion VMT, a shocking and unprecedented 21% increase from 1.9 in 2019. This projection is the largest ever annual increase in the pedestrian death rate since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was established in 1975."
  • Press Release: Pedestrian Deaths Soar in 2020 Despite Precipitous Drop in Driving During Pandemic

In May, Warranty Week shared data trends on 2020 sales and warranty expenses for seven of the top vehicle manufacturers in Europe (BMW AG, Daimler AG, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Renault S.A., Volkswagen AG and Volvo Car Group). All vehicle manufacturers experienced a decrease in sales, while some experienced an increase in warranty expenses.

  • A total of $655 billion in revenue was accumulated across all vehicle manufacturers – 31% Volkswagen, 22% Daimler AG, 14% BMW and Fiat, 8% PSA, 7% Renault and 4% Volvo Cars.
  • A total of $22.9 billion in warranty claims were accumulated across all vehicle manufacturers – 47% VW, 18% Daimler AG, 12% BMW, 14% Fiat, and the remaining 9% between PSA, Renault and Volvo Cars
    • Overall, warranty claims decreased 2.5% since 2019. "There are two big reasons for this: first, it probably wasn't the brand new cars being brought in for warranty work, and second, even during the lockdowns it was still possible, though difficult, to get to the dealerships at some point."
  • Access the full Warranty Week article.

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