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Motor Vehicles 316 articles

NHTSA Investigating Ford-150 For Seat Belt Fire Hazard

Federal safety regulators are investigating Ford F-150 Supercrew pickup trucks after receiving driver complaints of a potentially defective seat-belt assembly that starts fires during or immediately after a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) said it received five reports from Ford F-150 owners that the seatbelt pretensioners, which regulate slack in the seatbelt and lock in place during a crash, stated fires in the “B pillar” that houses the belt. Although no injuries or deaths were reported, three of the Ford F-150 trucks were completely incinerated by the seatbelt fire. The other two trucks were extensively damaged. “The ... Read More

Boeing to Open Autonomous Aircraft Development Center at MIT

You’ve heard of autonomous cars and trucks, but there’s now another fast-emerging player in the world of self-driving technology – one that aims to make traffic safer and more efficient not on the roads but in the air. Boeing has announced that it will open its new Boeing Aerospace and Autonomy Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), becoming the first major tenant of its new Kendall Square District. Through its Kendall Square Initiative in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the university will develop six buildings to house a blend of lab and research, office, housing, and retail space. The aircraft manufacturer said ... Read More

Uber Ending Its Self-Driving Truck Operations

Uber says it is shutting down its self-driving truck research division for the foreseeable future. Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies group, said in an email to employees reviewed by Tech Crunch that Uber wants to build its forward momentum by focusing on its self-driving car technology. Once self-driving technology is more fully developed, Uber will apply it to commercial trucks. “Rather than having two groups working side by side, focused on different vehicle platforms, I want us instead collaborating as one team,” Mr. Meyhofer said in the email. “I know we’re all super proud of what the Trucks ... Read More

Some Hyundai and Kia Drivers Reporting Flames, Explosions

Federal auto safety regulators said they are “reviewing” reports that certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles are catching fire for unknown reasons, sometimes burning into unusable, charred ruins. That’s what happened to a Virginia woman’s 2012 Kia Soul. Michelle Belcher told Richmond’s WTVR Channel 6 that her son Bailey was driving the Kia Soul home from work when he noticed smoke coming from the vehicle and pulled over. Outside the vehicle, he noticed the glow of fire underneath the vehicle and  “the whole car went up in flames, it was crazy,” Bailey Belcher told WVTR. Neither Hyundai, which owns about a ... Read More

Audit Slams NHTSA For Poor Handling of Takata Airbags Recalls

Federal auto safety regulators have done a sloppy job handling the Takata airbag recalls, which may have left millions of motorists exposed to the potentially deadly airbags longer than necessary, a government audit has found. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) failed to follow its own procedures in addressing low recall repair completion rates, according to a report compiled by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and released to Congress July 18. U.S. lawmakers asked Transportation Department officials in 2015 to investigate how effectively its own auto safety regulators were overseeing the sweeping Takata airbag recalls, which ... Read More

Woodchucks Devoured Soy-Based Wiring in Paul Ryan’s Chevy Suburban

Rodent-attracting soy-based wiring in automobiles is a growing problem, and House Speaker Paul Ryan says his Chevrolet Suburban is among the vehicles that have been damaged by hungry rodent scavengers. “My car was eaten by animals,” Ryan told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington, according to The Washington Times. Ryan said that his Suburban has been parked at his mother’s house in Wisconsin ever since he became House Speaker in 2015 and was assigned a security detail. He hasn’t driven since then. According to Ryan, his mother went to Florida for the winter and when she returned she ... Read More

Tesla Settles Class Action Over ‘Dangerous’ Autopilot System

Owners of Tesla Model S and Model X cars who alleged the Autopilot system in their vehicles was “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous” have settled a class-action lawsuit with the California automaker. According to Reuters, Tesla agreed to allocate $5 million to a settlement fund that will partially compensate Model S and Model X owners who file a claim for the allegedly worthless feature. Owners of the vehicles claimed they spent an extra $5,000 to have their vehicles equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot system, which the company claimed on its website would make driving safer with capabilities such as automated emergency ... Read More

Takata Airbags Claim Another Life In Malaysia, Honda Confirms

Honda confirmed on Friday, June 1, that a faulty Takata airbag killed another person in Malaysia last week, bringing the number of Malaysians killed by exploding Takata airbags to seven and the global toll to at least 23. According to Reuters, the Japanese automaker said the latest death occurred in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, May 27, when a Takata airbag exploded inside a 2004 Honda City vehicle. Few more details were given about the case, which comes exactly five months since the last Takata airbag-related death was confirmed in Malaysia Jan. 1. All of the remaining ... Read More

NTSB Crash Report: Uber Disengaged Self-Driving Car’s Emergency Braking

Uber’s self-driving car that ran over and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March could have avoided the deadly collision or at least mitigated it had Uber not disengaged the vehicle’s emergency braking system, a preliminary report indicates. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in its preliminary report of the deadly collision that Uber’s modified 2017 Volvo XC90’s radar systems observed the pedestrian six seconds before impact but “the self-driving system software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path.” The self-driving Uber determined ... Read More

Fiat-Chrysler Recalls Nearly 5 Million Vehicles For Cruise-Control Glitch

Fiat-Chrysler is recalling nearly 5 million U.S. vehicles to repair a software glitch that could prevent drivers from canceling the cruise control. The problem affects about 4.8 million Fiat-Chrysler cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks from model-year 2014 to 2018. According to the automaker, “a driver could be unable to cancel cruise-control” if the cruise control system accelerates at the same time a “short-circuit in a specific electrical network” occurs. Normally drivers disengage cruise control by tapping the brake or hitting the cruise-control on-off switch, but both methods can stop working if the glitch occurs. The National Highway Traffic Safety ... Read More