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Feds, Automakers Reach Safety Recall Accord

January 15, 2016

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (left) at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Photo courtesy of U.S. DOT.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (left) at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Photo courtesy of U.S. DOT.

Eighteen automakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation have reached an agreement to work more closely together to identify vehicle manufacturing defects earlier and improve the overall safety recall process.

“The commitments we make today will help catch safety defects before they explode into massive recalls,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “They will help improve the quality of data that automakers and NHTSA [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] analyze to seek defects today, and they will find ways to generate better data in the future. When recalls are necessary, they will help us reach customers and get their vehicles repaired.”

The agreement is built around four stated goals: enhance and facilitate proactive safety, enhance analysis and examination of early-warning reporting data, maximize safety recall participation rates, and enhance automotive cybersecurity.

The automakers committing to the accord are American Honda Motor Co., BMW of North America, FCA US (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Hyundai Motor America, Jaguar Land Rover North America, Kia Motors America, Mazda North American Operations, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Nissan North America, Porsche Cars North America, Subaru of America, Tesla Motors, Toyota Motor North America, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars USA.

"FCA US LLC embraces this initiative and, through our ongoing engagement with NHTSA, we are already moving in the direction outlined in the agreed-upon principles," said Sergio Marchionne, FCA CEO, in a released statement. "FCA US has more than doubled the complement of professionals assigned to its vehicle-safety organization."

The agreement’s objectives include greater reliance on advanced data analytics to more readily identify safety threats, based on early-warning reporting data. Under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000, manufacturers must submit to NHTSA quarterly early-warning reports that include information about crashes involving death or injury, property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims and field reports.

Additionally, the new agreement directs automakers to share best practices to improve recall participation rates among vehicle owners. These efforts will include exploring how car and truck dealers, insurance companies and state DMVs might assist in tracking down a vehicle’s current owner to ensure recall repairs are completed.

The accord, announced at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, also calls for greater industry collaboration to improve automotive cybersecurity and mitigate cyber threats that pose safety risks. In this area, the agreement describes an increased role for the auto industry’s Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC), an industry initiative announced in July. The Auto-ISAC serves as a hub for automotive cyber threat intelligence and analysis.

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