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.

March 02, 2021

Recent Developments

After an investigation beginning in October 2019, a recent recall was initiated for over 1.3 million vehicles due to a software defect in the emergency-call system. The defective software may provide emergency responders with the incorrect location of the vehicle. The recall repair will be performed using an over-the-air (OTA) software update.

  • “If there is a drop of the power supply to the communications module during a crash, the automatic eCall system may register the location of the vehicle’s last ignition cycle, rather than its location at the time the eCall system is activated. Emergency responders may be dispatched to an inaccurate vehicle location, increasing the risk of injury following a crash.”
  • The Part 573 submission for this recall can be accessed here: Part 573 Safety Recall Report

In February, Microsoft announced that it is separately working with Bosch and Volkswagen to develop software platforms that will be hosted in its Azure cloud-based computing system.

  • Microsoft and Bosch plan to develop new tools to more efficiently develop vehicle software and the creation of a platform that can deliver over-the-air vehicle software updates. The companies expect that this platform will be ready for prototype vehicles by the end of the year.
    •  “These two titans of their respective industries want to make the installation process of automotive over-the-air updates a quick and seamless process, no different than upgrading to the latest OS version on your iPhone.”
    • “This yet-unnamed software platform will be based on Microsoft Azure, the company's cloud computing service. Bosch will provide various software modules, though its expertise in vehicle electric systems, control units and computing tech will also play an important role.”
    • “These two companies will also work on creating new tools that make it easier and more efficient to develop software. Microsoft and Bosch also plan to use GitHub's enterprise platform and even open-source components of their new software platform for sharing across the automotive industry.”
    • For more information: Microsoft and Bosch join forces to create new automotive software platform
  • Microsoft and Volkswagen announced a collaboration to create an “Automated Driving Platform” through a cloud-based system for the development of autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAs).
    • “Petabytes of data from road and weather conditions to obstacle detection and driver behavior need to be managed every day for the training, simulation and validation of AD functions…Machine learning algorithms that learn from billions of real and simulated miles driven are key to connected driving experiences.”
    • “VW Group’s Car.Software Organisation, its in-house software company, will work with Microsoft to streamline that process. The goal is a single database, pulling together real traffic data and simulations, which will give autonomous systems and developers a single port of call for road insights.”
    • “It’s not the first time Volkswagen has looked to Microsoft’s cloud. The Volkswagen Automotive Cloud (VW.AC) – which the automaker uses to deliver data and other mobility services with its vehicles and apps – is already co-developed with Microsoft, though the first VW.AC-enabled vehicles aren’t expected to go operational until this year. Even then, they’ll only be test cars: production won’t be until 2022.”
    • For more information: VW and Microsoft are building an autonomous car platform with Azure at its heart

“A longstanding partnership among the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the MITRE Corp. and several car makers is about to expand. The program, called the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety, or PARTS, is greatly expanding the datasets it uses in research.”

  • The PARTS program uses data to better understand the effectiveness of vehicle safety technologies. The NHTSA provides police reported crash reports, vehicle manufacturers provide vehicle build records for 2015-2021 model year vehicles and MITRE maintains the data and conducts analyses.
  • The PARTS program is expanding its data set by including data from 2 additional vehicle manufacturers and analyzing technologies outside of emergency braking and lane management.
  • For more information: MITRE, NHTSA expanding partnership with more transportation data sets

The NHTSA is creating an outreach campaign  to promote the “Move Over” law designed to protect  all emergency vehicles and any other vehicles making use of any visual warning. 

  • “Since 2017, there have been 188 law enforcement officers killed in traffic-related incidents.”
  • “Between 2006-2017, on average, one law enforcement officer was killed during a traffic-related incident each week.” 
  • “NHTSA has used a similar high-visibility approach in other traffic safety campaigns, such as Click It or Ticket, to increase seat belt use. These tactics have proven helpful in getting the word out about existing laws and the reasons they’re important.”
  • “Violations have a penalty of up to $200.”
  • For more information: Safety Coalition and NHTSA Spread Awareness

Analysis 

In January, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued the results of a study about the effects of adaptive cruise control (ACC) on driving performance. The study found that ACC provided many safety benefits to drivers. The main observations outlined in the study included:

  • “Mind-wandering rates while using ACC were not higher than those during manual driving.”
  • “Measures of electrodermal activity (EDA) suggested increased physiological arousal during ACC use compared to manual driving.”
  • “ACC use was associated with decreased speed, longer following gaps, and reduced steering variability compared to manual driving.”
  • “Most participants were unfamiliar with ACC prior to completing the study.”
  • For more information: The Effects of Vehicle Automation on Driver Engagement: The Case of Adaptive Cruise Control and Mind Wandering

In February, Warranty Week shared preliminary data for warranty claims in the fourth quarter of 2020 for three vehicle manufacturers – GM, Ford, and Tesla. Although each vehicle manufacturer’s data shows slightly differently trends, overall, the data shows that warranty expenses significantly decreased in the spring of 2020, likely due to COVID-19 lockdowns, but increased toward the end of the year. 

  • Warranty claim rates for Tesla (calculated by dividing warranty claims into sales made) remained generally consistent quarter over quarter as the increase in new claims was offset by an increase in sales. Assuming there are no timing differences between the year of the sale and warranty claims this suggests that electric cars have lower warranty claim rates than their internal combustion counterparts.
  • GM and Ford experienced a decline in sales which partially resulted in increased warranty claim rates.
  • For more information: Detroit Auto Warranty Update

Insights

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report about its investigation of four electric vehicle fires (three crashes and one non-crash) from lithium-ion batteries. The report includes investigations into electric vehicle battery fires, regulatory and industry actions, guidance for emergency responders, standards and research, findings, and recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the manufacturers of electric vehicles equipped with high-voltage lithium-ion batteries and six professional organizations that represent or operate training programs for first and second responders.

  • “Fires in electric vehicles powered by high-voltage lithium-ion batteries pose the risk of electric shock to emergency responders from exposure to the high-voltage components of a damaged lithium-ion battery. A further risk is that damaged cells in the battery can experience uncontrolled increases in temperature and pressure (thermal runaway), which can lead to hazards such as battery reignition/fire. The risks of electric shock and battery reignition/fire arise from the “stranded” energy that remains in a damaged battery.”
  • Findings identified:
    • “…crashes caused extensive damage that extended into the protected area of the cars’ high-voltage battery cases, rupturing the cases and damaging battery modules and individual cells.”
    • “The noncrash fire was caused by an internal battery failure.”
  • Safety issues identified:
    • “Inadequacy of vehicle manufacturers’ emergency response guides for minimizing the risks to first and second responders posed by high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires in electric vehicles.”
    • “Gaps in safety standards and research related to high-voltage lithium-ion batteries involved in high-speed, high-severity crashes.”

A recent post from Foley & Lardner LLP noted that fleet vehicles will likely be the first vehicle type to convert to all electric vehicles. This would result in many benefits to the fleet industry such as cost savings, less infrastructure development and less maintenance.

  • “Corporations can see the cost savings in not paying for fuel and are pushing forward to replace fleets. Just a year ago, Ceres led the creation of a collaborative group of companies called the 'Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance.' The 20+ members are diverse, but include companies that undoubtedly drive a lot of miles: Amazon, DHL, Hertz, AT&T, American Airlines and others.”
  • For more information: Fleets Will Go Electric First

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