Four Japanese auto brands – Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda – have issued a recall of 3.4 million vehicles due to an airbag glitch. The faulty airbags all come from the same supplier, the Japanese safety gear manufacturer Takata.
Some non-Japanese automakers also use the recalled airbags, but Takata hasn’t named them. It’s the largest product recall ever for the company, and the first major recall since 1995.
The recall affects passenger-side airbags manufactured at the company’s Mexico plant between 2000 and 2002. All of the vehicles involved thus far were manufactured between 2000 and 2004.
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“The involved vehicles are equipped with front passenger airbag inflators which could have been assembled with improperly manufactured propellant wafers,” Toyota USA said in a statement on the recalls section of the automaker’s website. “Improperly manufactured propellant wafers could cause the inflator to rupture and the front passenger airbag to deploy abnormally in the event of a crash.”
The airbags could deploy with too much force, starting fires or sending debris flying toward passengers.
Below are the specifics for each automaker:
Toyota is recalling 1.73 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles worldwide and 170,000 vehicles in the United States, including Corolla, Corolla Matrix, Sequoia, and Tundra, and Lexus SC 430 models manufactured between 2001 and 2003. Per the Toyota press release, the automaker may have to investigate 510,000 additional vehicles for faulty inflators.
“Owners of vehicles subject to this safety recall will receive an owner notification letter by first class mail,” Toyota's statement reads. “The recall remedy will involve inspection of the front passenger air bag, and, if it is equipped with an affected inflator, the inflator will be replaced with a newly manufactured one at no charge to the owner.”
For more information, visit www.toyota.com/recall, or call the Toyota customer line at 1 800 331-4331.
Honda will recall 1.14 vehicles worldwide and 561,000 in the United States, including 43,000 CR-Vs manufactured between 2002 and 2003, 426,000 Civics manufactured between 2001 and 2003, and 92,000 2002 Odyssey minivans. Honda will notify affected customers via email in late May. Honda owners can determine if their cars need a repair before then by visiting www.recalls.honda.com, or by calling (800) 999-1009 and selecting option 4.
Nissan is recalling 480,000 vehicles worldwide for the problem, including 137,000 vehicles in Japan. No specifics have been provided yet on the remaining 343,000 vehicles, sold overseas in North America and Europe. Affected models include Cube, X-Trail, Maxima and Teana, manufactured between August 2000 and January 2004.
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Ford marketing honcho Jim Farley recently gave the keynote address at the 2013 New York AutoShow. While speaking about changes in the auto industry caused by shifts in demographics (e.g. Millennials) and mindsets (e.g. connectivity), he also announced a new app contest.
That contest -- dubbed the Personalized Fuel Efficiency App Challenge -- offers a cash prize to the software developer who creates the best new app for fuel efficiency. The winning app might live on smartphones, or it might exist solely on Ford infotainment systems. According to the official contest website:
Ford Motor Company is challenging software developers to create the best mobile or web-based apps that will help customers easily access their personal fuel-economy performance data. With this data, using on-road personalized experiences, customers can share, compare and learn how to optimize their fuel usage. Developers must use data via the OpenXC platform. Winners will receive $50,000.
Farley explained the rationale for the contest in his keynote speech: ( Continue… )
Ford sold over one million examples of its Focus last year.
That alone is impressive, but there's deeper meaning to the high sales statistic--for the first time, the Focus has overtaken its Japanese rival, the Toyota Corolla, at the top of the global sales charts.
Thanks to the U.S. and Corolla-loving eastern markets, the Japanese compact is a familiar face on top-seller lists, but one market in particular has really helped Ford knock the Corolla into second place--China.
According to The Detroit News, Ford sold almost 300,000 Focus in China last year, after the latest model debuted in March. Ford also still sells the old Focus in China, badged "Classic" Focus. ( Continue… )
Fisker Automotive's problems deepen further with the news that the electric car startup is now facing a lawsuit for the dismissal of 160 of its employees.
Fisker, makers of the range-extended electric Karma, laid off around three quarters of its workforce on Friday as it struggles to avoid bankruptcy.
Law firm Outten & Golden LLP filed the suit, reports Automotive News(subscription required), which states that Fisker failed to comply with both federal and local standards for the termination of employees.
As part of the U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), companies must give at least 60 days noticed before mass terminations, a condition Fisker has not met. ( Continue… )
There's a far more effective way of reducing pollution and dependency on oil than buying more efficient cars or going electric: Driving less.
It's not an option available to everyone of course, but it certainly helps reduce fuel use. And it's something Americans have been doing in a steady trend since 2005.
That's according to data from StreetFilms (via Treehugger), whose video neatly illustrates how Americans, per-capita, have been driving less over the last eight years.
Several factors could have played a part in this, and it's likely a combination of variables is responsible, but no single factor is to blame.
The trend started before the recession, for example, so the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 didn't start the downward movement. Nor did rising gas prices, given the graph shows lower car use despite a large drop in gas prices during the mid to late 2000s.
Others point to younger people lacking interest in cars and driving. That's certainly something the car industry is worried about, and it's also something that the rising cost of driving plays a very real part in.
We've seen surveys which suggest young people care more about their internet access than they do their cars. And the rise of car-sharing services heavily targets those younger users who may have a license, but can't afford to run their own car (rather than those who simply aren't interested).
The video's data shows how annual miles traveled in cars among 16 to 34-year olds dropped 23 percent from 2001 to 2009. Younger people are still getting about, they're just doing it in other ways. As are older people, with 1.1 million seniors giving up their licenses between 2001-2009.
There's a message behind all this, which is that transport planners still develop strategies based on the assumption that car transport is rising. Instead, StreetFilms proposes, they should be planning for a populus moving away from driving, and invest in better infrastructure for walking, cycling and public transit.
For some people, driving will only ever be the sole realistic option. But in cities in particular, it makes more sense to plan for future where people simply won't be driving as much.
If you're used to driving around in a Prius then average miles per gallon of 24.6 will sound a little poor in comparison.
But that's the average economy of all cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in the U.S. in March--and it's an all-time high.
24.6 mpg is 0.2 mpg higher than January and February's revised figures, both the previous record holders. Rising average fuel economy is a consistent trend at the moment, with several months last year also setting records.
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The data is sales-weighted, so the highest-selling models have the greatest effect on the figures--it'll be a while before the high MPGe figures of electric vehicles are represented to any degree by statistics such as these.
Even so, the constant upwards movement reflects the impressive efforts of automakers to improve the efficiency of their vehicles. From hybrid and electric vehicles through increasingly popular diesels and improved gasoline engines, today's cars aren't just cleaner than ever, they're more fuel efficient too.
The most recent figures are 4.5 mpg higher than those of October 2007, the first month that University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) started recording data.
That year's average was just 20.8 mpg, which rose to 23.5 mpg overall in 2012.
Average sales-weighted fuel economy figures do tend to fluctuate throughout the year, peaking in spring and summer, before falling in the colder months--so it's likely 2013's average highs won't be much greater than the current 24.6 mpg. But overall, 2013's average fuel economy should be even better than that seen in 2012.
UMTRI also keeps data for what it calls the Eco-Driving Index (EDI). This figure considers the fuel used per distance driven and the frequency of driving, to calculate average monthly emissions generated by the individual U.S. driver.
This crept up to 0.83 in January (the data is a few months behind, and lower numbers are better) but overall the figures show a 17 percent improvement since records started in 2007.
We've still a long way to go to really cut down on fuel use and emissions (and huge truck sales figures bring down the overall average) but the important thing is, we're still moving in the right direction.
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Newspapers keep in their files pre-written obituaries for people who are old, known to be ill, or famous.
We have a feeling we should start dusting off the one we wrote awhile back for Fisker Automotive, which laid off the bulk of its remaining employees this morning at 8 am Pacific time.
Numerous members of the media received notes earlier today from at least one Fisker employee noting that the layoffs were coming.
As further details leaked out, GigaOm reports that 160 employees were laid off, with just 53 remaining.
Hyundai Motor Corp and its Kia Motors affiliate are recalling more than 1.8 million cars and SUVs in the United States to address a potentially faulty switch and a loose headliner, according to US safety regulators.
Hyundai is recalling 1,059,824 cars and SUVs and Kia 623,658 vehicles from model years 2007 through 2011 to replace a switch that could increase the risk of a crash, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A Kia spokesman in the United States said the company was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue, and did not have any information on whether the recall was being done in other countries. Reuters could not immediately reach officials at Hyundai.
In addition, Hyundai is recalling another 186,254 Elantra cars from model years 2011 through 2013 to apply adhesive strips to the headliner to prevent that part from becoming displaced during a side curtain airbag deployment and increasing the risk of cuts during a crash, the NHTSA said.
The malfunctioning stop lamp switch in the larger recall affecting Hyundai and Kia may cause the brake lights not to illuminate when the brake pedal is depressed, or cause an inability to deactivate the cruise control by pressing the brake pedal, the NHTSA said.
That malfunctioning switch may also cause intermittent operation of the push-button start feature, prevent the shifter from being moved out of the park position or allow the driver to move the shifter out of park without applying the brake, or cause the electronic stability control malfunction light to illuminate, according to NHTSA documents.
Failure to illuminate the brake lights or disengage cruise control could increase the risk of a crash, while disabling the brake-transmission interlock could result in a vehicle rollaway, the NHTSA said.
Both South Korean automakers are notifying owners, and dealers will replace the switch at no cost.
The affected Hyundai models include 2007-2009 Accent cars and Tucson SUVs, 2007-2010 Elantras, 2007-2011 Santa Fe SUVs, 2008-2009 Veracruz SUVs, 2010-2011 Genesis coupes and 2011 Sonata cars, according to the NHTSA.
The recall affects cars from the 2005 through 2009 model years sold in 20 states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.
Subaru says in documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that salty water can cause the brake lines to rust and leak. If fluid leaks, it could take longer for drivers to stop the cars, increasing the risk of a crash.
The problem was discovered in internal testing and no related crashes or injuries have been reported, Subaruspokesman Michael McHale said in an e-mail. Subaru is recalling the cars as a precaution. Owners of the cars should take them to a Subaru dealer for inspection, he said. ( Continue… )
March is turning out to be the best month for auto sales in at least six years.
Major automakers including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, General Motors and Nissan all reported increases, with some reporting their best monthly totals since the start of the Great Recession in December of 2007.
Buyers were lured to showrooms by flashy new vehicles and low interest rates. Plus they continue to replace older cars and trucks — the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is more than 11 years.
"A strong first-quarter close and increased consumer confidence continue to position the auto industry as a leader in the economic recovery," Bob Carter, Toyota's senior vice president of automotive operations, said in a statement. ( Continue… )