Consumer Reports writes that vehicles made by 14 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” The airbags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants. At the heart of the problem is the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which in some cases has ignited with explosive force. If the inflator housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the airbag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.
In presentations on “Changing Corporate Practices to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries: A Promising Strategy for Improving Global Public Health?” at Edinburgh University and University of Glasgow, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at City University of New York School of Public Health, described the role of corporate business and political practices on the growing global burden of non-communicable diseases and injuries. He also analyzed what roles public health professionals can play in countering the adverse health effects of these practices. View the presentation.
Ford has issued a recall for around 202,000 of its best-selling pick-up trucks, SUVs and cars over a problem with the transmission that could suddenly downshift and cause a drop in speed, reports Fortune. Ford said the problem was based in the software installed in its speed sensor, and the recall will involve an update and vehicle inspections. The Detroit-based automaker also recalled 81,000 2014-2015 Ford Explorer and Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles to fix poor weld quality in its rear suspension links that could lead to a fracture.
One of the last big profit centers for Detroit’s automakers, the sport utility vehicle, is under siege, reports the New York Times. An onslaught of competitive new S.U.V.s, especially in the most profitable high-end segment, is in the development pipeline or already showing up in dealer showrooms. At this year’s New York International Auto Show, the star attractions weren’t the usual sleek sports and muscle cars, but new luxury S.U.V.s from Jaguar, Maserati (where a line formed for a chance to be enveloped in the wood-and leather-lined interior) and even Bentley, which had its new Bentayga safely cordoned off behind velvet ropes.
Engineers, safety advocates and even automakers have a safety message for federal regulators eager to get self-driving cars on the road: slow down, reports U.S. News and World Report. Fully self-driving cars may be the future of the automotive industry, but they aren’t yet up to the demands of real-world driving, several people told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration during a public meeting Friday. A slower, more deliberative approach may be needed instead of the agency’s rapid timetable for producing guidance for deploying the vehicles, according to an auto industry trade association. In January, the federal agency announced that it would begin work on writing guidance for deploying the vehicles. Officials have promised to complete that guidance by July.
Ever since Volkswagen Group confessed last September to cheating diesel emissions tests on an unprecedented scale, reports Automotive News Europe E-Magazine, Europe’s auto industry has scurried to contain the reputational fallout from the public health risk and to deflect criticism from a technology deemed critical to meeting CO2 reduction targets. Facing an uphill battle to preserve support, automakers have rallied around one simple message: The latest Euro 6 diesels into which they have sunk billions of euros are among the cleanest, most efficient around and without them there would be no chance of curbing fleet CO2 emissions. But a cloud of suspicion has descended on the industry that has left automakers struggling to shape the public debate. More red tape, stricter testing regimens and greater scrutiny as a result of the VW Group’s fraud are only the beginning.
Since agreeing to tough new federal fuel economy standards five years ago, automakers have been methodically improving the gas mileage of their vehicles and reducing emissions harmful to the environment, writes the New York Times. But despite investing billions in fuel-saving technologies and introducing a raft of lower-mileage models and electric cars, the industry will be hard-pressed to meet its target of 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025. Now, with a crucial midterm review of federal fuel-economy rules to begin this summer, automakers are expected to seek adjustments to the government’s formula for increasing mileage and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.