A recent article by The New York Times gave us all a brief look at GM, Takata, history and profit motivation. The look is frightening. It shows how one corporation decided to put profits over consumer safety. Thanks go out to Louis Lombardo of Care for Crash Victims for the lead.
Nearly one week ago, the first Volkswagen employee to be charged in the diesel emissions “defeat device” scandal entered into a plea agreement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The man, James Liang, age 62, could face up to five years in prison. VW engineer Liang pleaded guilty in emissions conspiracy and the plea agreement was entered into in a Detroit District Court.
It has to be one of the worst times to be an automaker. In a time of epic recalls, General Motors just announced another one. GM recalling 4.3M vehicles due to airbag software; this recall is worldwide. Though the recall is worldwide, most of the affected vehicles (3.6M) are in the U.S.
As though Takata needed more trouble, having already caused up to 15 deaths and the biggest vehicle recall in the history of vehicle recalls, it’s now in the news for setting off the equivalent of a huge bomb in Texas. Yes, a Takata inflator explosion times 14,000 rocked Texas recently. The incident occurred in Maverick County on August 22.
Imagine you’re driving down the highway, cool wind in your hair, the warm smell of… having just learned (yeah, I know, what took me so long?) what the next line means, I’ll end the Hotel California intro here.* Anyway, imagine you’re on that awesome trip when, suddenly, one of your car doors pops open! Especially if it’s one of the rear doors and you have child passengers! Granted, seatbelts and car seats are protection against being pulled out of the vehicle, but nothing is guaranteed in this world. Why do I bring this up? I do so because it can happen and it can be not only scary, but dangerous. Faulty door latches prompt 830K vehicle Ford recall. I might even find myself thinking of the “warm smell of colitas” if it happened to me.
It’s cruel irony. On the day designated to raising awareness of the dangers of heat strokes (Wednesday, June 8), another baby died in hot car on Heat Stroke Awareness Day. This is the 11th such tragic fatality this year, a 275% increase over the same time last year. This time it was an 8-month old infant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The tragedy behind these tragedies is that such deaths are preventable.
The Takata airbag recall crisis is getting no better and, according to recent news, is actually getting worse. Ford has recalled nearly 2M more vehicles and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently released a report of its investigation that shows some automakers are still using the defective airbag inflators in new vehicles. The Takata update upset the Senate and one particular victim.
In a victory for highway safety advocates everywhere, a new law went into effect yesterday. Rental car companies now forbidden to rent recalled cars; if the company has a fleet of over 35 vehicles, all those with NHTSA-issued recalls must be “grounded” until they are properly repaired.
Advocacy organization Consumer Watchdog put forth a request to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind on May 18. The group’s request: slam shut revolving door between robot-car companies and NHTSA officials. Consumer Watchdog wants a written commitment that neither transportation bigwig will take a job for or work as a consultant to any company developing self-driving cars for at least seven years following their departure from their current posts.