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.
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:
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.
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."
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.
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.