Nissan plans to recall 3.5 million vehicles sold around the world to fix seat-mounted sensors that could cause a car’s airbags to fail to deploy in the event of a crash. 3.2 million of the vehicles are in the United States. The Altima sedan, Leaf battery car and NV200 commercial van are included in the recall.
The recall is the fourth to attempt to address the problem with so-called “smart” airbag sensors. It is separate from recalls triggered by faulty Takata airbag inflators, an issue that has so far plagued 14 different automotive manufacturers.
Ford announced it will offer a new, factory-installed front interior visor light bar that provides a stealth appearance for police agency patrol vehicles. This extremely low profile unit is fully integrated where the headliner and top of the windshield meet. Ford says the design provides tremendously improved driver visibility versus aftermarket alternatives, plus it was a warranty.
Ford Motor Co. is recalling 75,364 2014-2015 model-year Ford Explorer and Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in the U.S. to replace rear suspension toe links. The right and left and right rear suspension toe links might fracture because of poor weld quality. Ford stated the condition could result in rear suspension noise, difficulty steering or loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the left and right rear suspension toe links and align the rear suspension at no cost to the customer.
On April 8th NHTSA held the federal government’s first public hearing on self-driving cars. Over 200 people attended the hearing Friday at the US Department of Transportation’s headquarters in Washington, DC. For almost seven hours, agency officials heard testimony from automakers, engineers, consumer watchdogs, and disability advocates on the hopes and fears surrounding autonomous vehicles. They’re comments ran the gamut from “this is the best thing ever” to “ban self-driving cars before they kill us all.” No one from Google, Tesla, Uber, Lyft, Apple, Volvo, or any other major companies that are working on autonomous technology, were in attendance.
On April 27th NHTSA held a second hearing, this time in California at Stanford University. This time the Silicon Valley companies were in attendance and they called for fast and efficient deployment of the technology. The companies have great concern about how laws will be enacted across the country and to what degree driver intervention will be required.
The California Energy Commission approved nearly $9 million in grants for the installation of DC fast chargers along major state freeways and highways to allow electric vehicle drivers to travel from San Diego to the Oregon border without worrying about running out of energy. 61 DC fast chargers will be installed at 41 sites along major routes on Interstate 5, Highway 99 and Highway 101. Fast chargers allow vehicles to fully charge in 20 to 30 minutes. Additionally, 40 sites will have one Level 2 charger, and one site will have two Level 2 chargers. Level 2 chargers allow most vehicles to go from zero to full charge in four to eight hours.
It’s generally expected that autonomous vehicles will prove to be safer than those driven by fallible humans, but hard figures will be needed to convince regulators and a skeptical public. During a talk in Norway, Elon Musk said that Tesla is beginning to amass some statistics on the safety of its Autopilot-equipped vehicles and stated that “The probability of having an accident is 50% lower if you have Autopilot on, even with our first version”. Musk says that even with the early version of Autopilot, it’s almost twice as good as a person.