Beth Brooke puts dummies in their place
Did you know that those 5 star safety crash tests do not apply to women drivers? NHTSA bases these crash tests on an “average” male and ignores women that have a different skeletal structure and physiology. But don’t worry NHTSA is still researching the issue… of whether women drive? No idea why they are wasting time on this as better crash test dummy technology exists that could make cars safer for everyone.
This week Beth Brooke from VERITY Now (https://www.veritynow.org) joins us to explain more about the issue and how NHTSA could solve the problem today.Plus Recall Roundup and Fred discusses the metallurgy for stainless steel in terms of the Cybertruck.
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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.
Anthony: You’re listening to their auto be a law, the center for auto safety podcast with executive director, Michael Brooks, chief engineer, Fred Perkins, and hosted by me, Anthony Semino. For over 50 years, the center for auto safety has worked to make cars safer.
All right. Hello listeners. This week. Thanks. Thanks. Again, Fred, we don’t know when people are listening to this, but yeah, you’re right. Good morning. This week we have special guest Beth Brooke. She is the co chair of Verity Now. She’s the retired global vice chair of public policy at EY also known as Formerly known as Erston Young she was a member of the firm’s global executive board.
She is on the board of the New York Times, on the board of the U. S. Olympic Committee and Paralympic Committee and so she’s the co chair of Verity Now, which stands for Vehicle, Equity, Rules, and Transportation. Brooke Beth, sorry, Beth, welcome to the show.
Beth Brooke: Thank you very much, glad to be here.
Anthony: If you could just give listeners a kind of a brief overview of what exactly Verity Now does and the issues you work on.
Beth Brooke: Yeah, we are advocating for equity in the safety standards for vehicle safety, essentially what is not known and I, and the reason I got involved, honestly, with my co chair, Susan, former Congresswoman Susan Molinari was. When I walk into a car dealership, I assume that the car is designed with my safety in mind as a woman, just as it would be designed with my brother’s safety in mind and when I learned that, that was not the case, that the car is designed with my safety in mind.
To adhere to safety standards that are only designed for my brother and not for me. I wanted to get involved because I don’t think it’s well known and the issue’s been around for a very long time. And we’ve made so much progress, my entire career, been very much an advocate for gender equity, and this was a glaring example where we are not equitable as women when it comes to the safety of the cars that we drive.
Anthony: I only have the same assumption that, crash test dummy is a crash test dummy and that it would work. I’d never, the issue of gender or even size disparity, I didn’t even… Imagine this was a thing until talking to Michael and Fred all the time discussing, or discovering, learning, that the crash test stomach is for a 50% male.
Is that right?
Beth Brooke: Average. Yeah what’s amazing and a statistic to just support what I previously said is and why would I care about this issue is because women, if we get involved in a car crash, we are 17% more likely to die and 73% more likely to be severely injured than a man.
So this is an issue we care about. Your question about the crash test dummy, they came, when did they come into being? The first. Crash test dummy for which cars are designed to test safety against came into being in 1976. It was the 1st dummy. It was 172 pound 59 male called the hybrid 3, 20 years later, they.
They came up with a female dummy in quotes because the female dummy is just a mini male. It’s the scale. It’s a less weight version, a shorter version of a male dummy, but it doesn’t resemble the physiological differences of a woman when women are injured. It tends to be because we have different skeletal structures, bone, excuse me, neck, especially, test, ankles, legs, much, we sit closer to the steering wheel a lot of times because we are shorter. So those injury statistics, 73% more likely to be injured, just screams for the safety standards to you to want to test for women. The other thing, Anthony, that I think is stunning is that In 1976, when we had that first dummy, that dummy was used to test in the driver’s seat, right?
Today, what are, how many years later and decades later, we still don’t test, even this mini male, the quote female, the mini male still isn’t tested in the driver’s seat, as if women do not drive. It is, the safety standards are simply archaic at this point.
Anthony: That’s really upsetting to me considering that I think I fit the physiological framework of the female dummy they currently use.
I am the mini male version.
Beth Brooke: But you have a male skeletal structure, so it’s a little better for you.
Anthony: Yeah, but you’re saying that, women sit closer to the steering wheel. So I had a friend of mine who’s a guy who’s… 6 2 the other day, borrow my car, and I get into it, and I’m like trying to reach for the steering wheel, and realizing, oh yeah, I’m sitting much closer to it than he is and I was just having a little thought of, if the airbag goes off for him, he gets like an extra, I don’t know, couple milliseconds before the thing to fully deploy.
With me, it’s, I’m getting knocked out right away. And so this is not, so that’s just my problem as, okay, as a smaller sized man. But there’s been no kind of push from NHTSA or I know the auto manufacturers are not saying, yes, let’s add more testing to make our vehicles even more safe. Is this, is your organization, is this the first one really highlighting this issue and pushing things forward?
Beth Brooke: Yes, I think so. And because this is just not a well understood issue. Now, why now? For back in 1976, there, there wasn’t another dummy but there is now there is a biofidelic dummy that has sensors and things that resemble. The female body and can consents to that. It’s called the Thor 5th, and it’s now available.
And in fact, it’s starting to be used in Europe and is on a path toward usage in Europe and NHTSA just continues to want to research this issue when the statistics are extraordinarily clear that now, let me be clear is this biofidelity dummy Perfect. Of course not, but it is certainly better than the mini mail.
And to your point about why would the, is there a downside? It would add based on estimates only less than a dollar to the cost of a car. So you can’t argue that this was going to be a huge cost burden. And so I just keep coming back to, why not? Why not put it into use?
Michael: So we’ve had, gosh, 45, over 45 years since the hybrid 3 was introduced.
The 5% female dummy, or the Anthony dummy as we’re going to call it now,
Anthony: Wait a second.
Michael: It was only introduced, it wasn’t introduced to create parity between men and women in car crashes. It was actually put into play because airbags were deploying too aggressively and killing small children and women. So it wasn’t as though NHTSA decided to do that.
to increase protection for female bodies. They did it because airbags were killing people and they needed to find a solution. And so NHTSA has continually resisted, putting better dummies into play for female bodies, putting better dummies into play for seniors who, whose muscular and skeletal mass changes significantly over time.
And really looking into areas where there are significant differences in crash outcomes between gender. And one of them that I think of all the time, because I’ve seen so many just terrifying statistics on it, are lower leg injuries in women and crashes are literally sky high through the roof when you compare them to males.
And there’s some serious problems that should be addressed, but NHTSA continues to in its Structure and its rules doesn’t really get into this problem. And in the end cap, where you’re having a lot of really good impact on and incentivizing manufacturers to make cars better. And you’re seeing basically a male driver in the front seat in every test.
And so to get 5 stars, manufacturers have to design their vehicles. For 40 plus years now, based on the results they’re getting from a male driver in the front passenger seat. When you do that, I think necessarily you’re going to leave out, the bigger people, the smaller people, the older people and male and female are going to, we’re going to have problems there.
And so that’s really the path we’ve been on for the past 50 years. And there are a lot of changes that need to be made. And that’s it. There’s a lot of, there’s new injury criteria and things that need to be developed that focus specifically on different bodies. And none of that’s been done at the federal level.
And it’s something that I’m sure manufacturers don’t like, because it makes. It does create more complication. It’s more things they need to do more boxes. They need to check before they sell these vehicles. But once you have the system in place that can ensure that vehicles really are a, a 1 size fits all proposition versus what they are now, which is designed really to pass crash tests where there’s a male in the driver’s seat.
Until you see that, I don’t, we’re going to, I think that Verity Now is a really strong voice and a needed voice in this area because it’s just an area where the DOT has moved incredibly slowly.
Beth Brooke: There’s a growing consensus, that, that. That this is an issue to your point and, we have made, I think, substantial progress and bringing attention to this.
We’ve got congressional allies 66, Congress representatives and senators signed on a letter. To the department in support in the most recent 2024 appropriations reports and bills both the House and the Senate have called for a timeline and a roadmap for the adoption of the newer technology, the newer crash test dummy technology, the secretary himself, I give Secretary Buttigieg credit, he’s publicly stated his commitment to equal testing.
And saying that gender disparities are just simply unacceptable. But it’s a, it’s NHTSA that just wants to keep researching and keep testing. And and I think what we need is a timeline, a fast timeline and a roadmap for when the newer technology will be adopted, one of the arguments I hear against this is that newer cars are safer, as we get newer and newer cars.
They get safer and safer. Sure. That’s right. Women are still dying You know 73 more likely even with the safer cars And the enhancements in safety with new cars has dropped the fatality rate, but the fatality risk for men fell at twice the rate of the fatality risk for women. There is just still a glaring problem.
And when you look at more studies, it’s the types of the car. There’s also an organization that, that IIHS looked at this and said women buy smaller cars. Therefore, they’re getting more severely injured. You just take me down a rabbit hole on that one let’s look at the economic disparity between what women and men earn why do women drive smaller cars?
Perhaps they can’t afford them and then they get injured and then they you know, and it’s like a vicious circular cycle So that dog doesn’t hunt very well. I found it almost comical that The the report concluded that we need to fix the men. The men drive more recklessly.
They drive bigger cars. The men are doing the striking and the women are getting struck. And therefore the solution should be, let’s fix the men. Which versus let’s just use a female crash test dummy and let’s make the car safer for women. And in fact, how about we just do both? Let’s try to let men be better drivers, but let’s also design the safety standards to protect a woman.
We should do both.
Michael: Yeah. And number two sounds a lot easier than fixing men, honestly.
Beth Brooke: You just recall. Any moment when you’re driving down the highway and who’s zipping around you in a pickup truck and it’s you know, yeah
Michael: it is and One of the things I was going to say, too, is NCAP is, there are two sides of NHTSA crash tests, and they do tests for regulatory purposes and certification, and those rulemakings take a long time, decades sometimes, unfortunately, but NCAP was set up, by our good friend Joan Claybrook a long time ago to be able to change rapidly to different safety needs that we see in the marketplace.
They could pop a female dummy, they could have popped the 5% female dummy in the driver’s seat 20 years ago and they haven’t done that. Yes, it takes some time to get new dummies into NHTSA’s certification system, but there’s nothing stopping NCAP from doing testing with some of the newer dummies, some of the dummies that are meant to account for the different skeletal and muscular differences in men and women.
There’s nothing stopping them from doing that. The people who are resisting that entire. Operation are the manufacturers because they love the fact that in cap right now is giving, 80 to 90% of them, 4 and 5 stars on everything they put out on the market, because all they have to do is design vehicles that meet those tests.
When you start. Moving different dummies to different seats right now. We’re also trying to get a little more parity between rear seats and front seat safety. That’s when the objections start flowing in and needs to stand on its own 2 feet and not worry about hurting the manufacturers feelings in their testing program and really make in cap useful to consumers.
We just do not see enough 1, stars. In that program to allow anyone to discriminate between the safety of vehicles, much less at a point where, you know, 1 of the things we wanted to get into the end cap. 10 years ago was a silver star system. That would rate vehicles based on how they perform with seniors.
Maybe we should get, blue and pink stars for, how they perform. Formed with men and women, at least get the data out there so that consumers can make decisions, so that you could buy a vehicle that’s built and performs better for women if you’re a woman and at least give people the option.
Right now we don’t even have that option with the Federal Crash Testing Program.
Beth Brooke: Yeah, to your point, Michael, it’s one of the reasons Verity now exists. is to try to draw attention to the issue at, consumers, they will vote with their, they will vote with their wallets, and the more they know about this issue, and as you said, they do rely on the NCAT five star safety ratings.
They just don’t understand that those NCAT five star safety ratings aren’t designed to protect women. As I said at the outset, Europe and some other countries are moving ahead of the U. S. And so when cars, are designed that are safer the more we can draw attention to this, we can also help the consumer understand that end cap is flawed.
Right now when it comes to women and I think that’s important, nitsa is I to their credit I will tell you they’re starting to acknowledge the issue with they just Put out a you know calling for information about pedestrian safety And it was interesting that in their look at pedestrian safety.
They have started to acknowledge that There are women walking as well as men walking and they’ve called for data to help inform crashes and the safety of women as pedestrians that at least is a signal that they acknowledge there is an issue there are physiological differences and they have to be taken into account.
So I think that’s a good sign. The GAO, you know has put out a report that has put this issue into the spotlight and we’re hoping that NHTSA will have to respond to that GAO report hopefully sometime in September. So that will be coming soon and, NHTSA will be held to account.
Fred: I just want to jump in for with a quick thought there. There’s another dimension to this as well, which is that the hybrid three dummies are pretty old technology. And what we know is that the results that they’re getting from the test that they do are very sensitive to the details of how the straps are placed on a dummy.
How the instrumentation relates to the restraints. There’s only one sensor, for example, in the chest of the standard 80 days. Yeah. On the hybrid three model the more advanced models like the Thor have many more sensors, more distributed points, and we’ll get a much more realistic appraisal.
Of the consequences of a crash than the hybrid three. Just to point out that, yes, it’s a big step to get representative 80 days into the vehicles at all. But it should also not escape people’s scrutiny that we can do better than technology that. It was put into these things 25 years ago, much better technology available now, much better ways of understanding what the consequences of impacts are going to be.
Beth Brooke: Absolutely. And it’s not that the technology is perfect, but it is far better. And it’ll continue to evolve.
Anthony: The different injuries you’re talking about in terms of women versus men, so women will get more neck injuries, ankle injuries, so the changes that would happen to have to happen, would these be settings that people get into a car and be like, oh, I, this is how I’m a male, so it would be like changing the ankle height versus a female, I’m changing this, or would this be more of what we have today, which is a one size fits all safety area just better.
Beth Brooke: That’s outside my pay grade. I’m going to delve into the engineer world. Okay that’s right.
Fred: That’s right in my wheelhouse. So let me just address that. Okay, cars are built with a crumple zone in the front, which sounds benign and they crumple. But what actually happens is that they’re designed so that when they’re hit in the front with a lot of a lot of impact energy, the engine comes loose from its mounts and it dives under The floor pan of the vehicle so that it doesn’t come into the passenger compartment when it does that, of course, it crushes the floor pan.
So the floor pan then expands towards the area where legs are kept. And that’s a very characteristic. Consequence of a heavy crash. So those details of exactly how the cripple zone is designed, where the energy goes, where the parts go after the crash are probably a huge factor in the lower leg injuries that predominate in, when women and smaller people are in the front seat, there just isn’t as much room for the, all this stuff to come together and not hurt the people’s legs and ankles that are in that same space that the engine wants to occupy.
Michael: And now we have even have, vehicles with fronts that don’t have an engine where an electric vehicles where they’re, we’re having to think about completely different means of crumpling. I’m not sure if the data is there yet on whether we’re seeing the same types of injuries and vehicles that don’t have.
Internal combustion engine in front of the driver or not. That’ll be interesting. That would be interesting data to look at.
Anthony: Okay. So what are the next challenges for the future? Okay. There’s a better dummy design. Is it as simple as getting either the manufacturers to adopt this or NHTSA or is it both, or is it to, cause the auto manufacturers have historically been an old boys club and now the head of GM, She’s a woman.
Is she addressing this issue? Realizing, wait a second, I’m the first female auto executive here. Let’s focus on people like me. Or am I just naive?
Beth Brooke: There’s no legal authority needed. Which is what’s interesting. Even though, we’ve made great progress and we’ve got tons of congressional allies and they’re calling for this from NHTSA.
The GAO has called for it. Secretary Buttigieg has weighed in to end support. There’s no legal authority needed. NHTSA just needs to commit to a fast timeline for An equal number of tests for men and women and an equal nature of tests and when I say nature of tests, I mean Put the biofidelic female the thor fifth in the driver’s seat for frontal test and side impact drivers and use these biofidelic and advanced dummies the rule making is still open So it could be done and it can be done with the stroke of a pen so there’s no legislation needed
Anthony: So who needs to use their pen to make that stroke?
Beth Brooke: NHTSA.
Michael: NHTSA. Unfortunately. And NHTSA, you know what, I will say one thing Congress could do, NHTSA has the authority to do everything now. One thing Congress could really do to help here is to give NHTSA more money to work with. We’ve talked about that many times about the comparison between NHTSA’s budget and the FAA.
When you look at it on a fatality from a fatality standpoint, it’s absurd. That’s could change everything tomorrow. But what you’re really talking about is, I think what we’re really talking about is bringing in more vehicles into NCAP program because you’re going to need to do multiple tests of vehicles.
And they need more money to do that. And it’s, right now, I think they’re testing, I want to say it’s somewhere around 80 or so vehicles per year. They’re missing a lot of different parts of the fleet. They’re missing, certainly missing some of the more expensive vehicles. Some of these really heavy vehicles that we’re seeing coming down the pike, like a Hummer EV probably wouldn’t be tested.
And they need, more funds to do that. And this has traditionally been suppressed financially for being able to go out and get really good biofidelity experts and get really good dummy research done. And that’s why. Part of why it has been so slow is that, the auto industry has lobbied to maintain constant low levels of funding for nitsa, for, five decades now or more.
So that’s, that really comes into play. And I think Congress could help out a lot on that front.
Beth Brooke: Yeah, I don’t think you’re wrong there, Michael. The Thor fifth, the Biofidelic female, it’s passed its tests for bio fidelity. It passed them two years ago. So what’s still being researched?
I think what’s still being researched is the, yeah. Repeatability and durability of the dummy, does every time you crash test it, does it break, so that, that is what they are still researching. But again, it’s like women are dying women are dying at a disproportionate.
rate to men and the technology exists to address it. So it’s not,
Fred: I’m going to take issue with you a little bit, Michael. I think that there’s a simpler solution which doesn’t cost more money, which is to simply substitute all of the male ATDs with female ATDs because whatever technology protects the female ATDs.
The women in those positions is also going to protect men in those positions. So I, from an engineering perspective, you take the most challenging situation and you put that in front of the test and make sure that the most challenging situations are satisfied rather than doing the easy stuff and just saying, that’s all we can do because we ran out of money.
I saw, I think, that stroke of the pen should just say, get the men out of the way. Put the female dummies in here. I hate saying female dummies too, by the way. So I’m going to say female ATDs. But put the, put the female model ATDs in here and let’s just run the same tests. And then people like you and I, the men, might start to complain about it a little bit and say we need to be represented too.
But that’s, that’s just, turnabout is fair play.
That’s a, that’s an
Beth Brooke: interesting thought for that. I hadn’t thought about, but the urgency around this matter it’s not, the argument that new cars are getting safer, it’s it portrays that. Oh, maybe we should just slow down.
And this isn’t an urgent problem to the contrary. Cars are getting heavier. Vehicles are getting heavier. So this issue about the men striking and the women getting struck, the men drive heavier vehicles, the women drive smaller cars, vehicles in general are getting heavier. And so this disparity is going to cause more disproportionate death as we move forward.
So in my mind, the problem’s getting worse, not better.
Anthony: We agree a hundred percent. We regularly talk about the problem of weight in vehicles. But is it really, that simple? Just replacing the type of dummies? I’m not afraid to say the word dummy. Or the ATDs? Is it? That actually sounds like an incredibly simple solution in my mind.
These models exist. Why not just swap that out?
Beth Brooke: Your words, why not, is my words. Why not? Why not? The technology exists, it’s not going to make the the equity, it’s not going to make the equity less equitable. It’s certainly going to make it more equitable.
Is it going to solve the problem? Probably not. But why not? Yeah,
Anthony: just the getting that data alone. If it’s really it’s a hey, we don’t have to run multiple crash tests now because we have to do the male ATD dummy and the female ATD dummy. We can just do it all off of the female dummy and that will work.
And what Fred’s point was saying is, hey, if it’s safe for this model, that will scale up and work for larger occupants. And with that, I think we should just only put child models in the front seat then because you can protect them, right? No, Bye.
Fred: I think we should also put really tall dummies that represent seniors in there as well, from my own personal perspective
Anthony: with great the Fred dummy,
Fred: which is redundant, maybe, but still
We’ve hit on, we’ve talked about the the argument that women buy smaller cars, they’re not buying the Hummer EVs and whatnot, and we were just talking about that, that being, this is the issue, women buy smaller cars. Again, I don’t know, I have a small car.
Is that, that, that doesn’t strike me as being a very helpful argument there at all, is this is the problem, it’s women need to buy bigger cars?
Beth Brooke: Yeah, no, we need the smaller cars to be safe. We need all cars to be safe for everybody. That’s just the point. We’ve got disadvantaged classes at this point. Which just makes it’s out. It’s just outrageous in today’s day and age, and, there’s just multiple examples across, unrelated sectors where things don’t start to change until a rule requires it. In my corporate world, you think about women on boards until NASDAQ instituted a rule that said you’ve got to have a certain number of, diverse folks on your board, boards didn’t change, NASDAQ institutes that rule and look at the tremendous progress that has been made in the diversity of the corporate boards in the United States in the last couple of years, and you.
And Michael, back to your point, the airbag issue, the airbag was an issue, it’s deploying and killing people and a quick change was made. Was it perfect? Was the mini mail the perfect solution? Probably not but it was. But it was there, it was done, it was, it existed, so it
Michael: really helped solve the issue, and it was put into regulations, and it worked and it was done relatively quickly versus some of the time frames we’re seeing now which suggests, that NHTSA’s had a lot of rulemaking struggles in the last, A couple of decades, they’ve always been a little slow, but they’ve really ground to a halt on a lot of things in the last decade, where things like recall notification, really simple rules that could be put out quickly and, updating the.
ATD standards, the dummy standards that they have generally takes them a very long time, but also it just makes us wonder how much effort, how much effort are they really putting into that? What are their priorities and as an agency? Are they, are they prioritizing making vehicles safe for everyone right now?
Or, I think they might be, are they prioritizing fuel economy rule makings and work on autonomous vehicles that aren’t going to be here for another 30 years instead of taking care of the stuff that’s on our road today? We often see a lot of focus from that’s on these pie in the sky projects like autonomous vehicles.
Meanwhile. Level 2 and 3 vehicles like Teslas are killing people and nothing’s being done about it. And you wonder, if maybe the agency isn’t, putting the cart before the horse, looking a little too far into the future, rather than focusing on the issues we have on the roads today.
And right now, the gender disparity and the disparity between body types is a very big issue.
Beth Brooke: Go ahead,
Fred: Fred. I’m sorry. I was just gonna say, NHTSA, I think, sees itself as a cheerleading section for the automobile industry to a certain extent, as you pointed out, Michael, that all the cars, essentially all the cars now are getting five star safety ratings.
So I think that an issue for NHTSA, given their tradition, is that if they change to a radically different I model basis for the test, they’re not going to show up all the cars as being all that wonderful, right? So there’s going to be a PR issue associated with the fact that the cars all of a sudden are not showing the same safety.
Simply because they weren’t designed to be showing the same safety with the same kind of, with a different kind of ATD that’s in it. I think that, that could be a sleeper issue, but we do know that NHTSA in the past has been very sensitive to responding to the publicity needs and the support needs for the automobile industry, maybe to the exclusion of their charter associated with personal safety.
Beth Brooke: Yeah, I will say from a Verity Now perspective, we’re all for the, the AV, the autonomous vehicle, the automatic braking, the, for computer simulation around safety testing, we’re for all of that, because that is, that’s is progress, but we come back to, that’s great, but we have a bio, bio fidelic technology right now that could be implemented.
Do it and continue the work on all the other stuff. We’re not against the other stuff.
Anthony: This is one of these things where listeners like every person listening to this knows at least one woman, because you were born. It’s absolutely shocking to me that this is an issue. Most people, I do not imagine they think that, oh we’ve tested the car for a man who’s 5’10 175 pounds not for anybody else, and there’s gonna be some major issues there.
And now, Beth, as you’ve pointed out, this is just a stroke of the pen from NHTSA. Now, the problem is, what do listeners do? NHTSA doesn’t have a hotline. Is it contacting your congresspeople to push this? Is it, what does somebody do?
Beth Brooke: Yeah, they can go to our website, they’ll find some things some calls to action there that they can do help just add voice to it.
Yes, sign on to some things push your Congress person representative because we have congressional allies many who are trying to do what they can, it’s not in their jurisdiction, but they’re, as I said, they’ve put things in the appropriations language to encourage NHTSA to, again, commit to a fast timeline, develop a roadmap for the implementation and publicize it and stick to it.
Anthony: Yeah, NHTSA no longer needs to research if women drive cars. We have the data. Drive,
Beth Brooke: and we do sit in the driver’s seat.
Anthony: I’ve seen it happen. Yeah, you can go to veritynow. org V E R I T Y N O W. org find out more. Yeah, is there anything else you want to add before we jump into the Tao of Fred?
Beth Brooke: No, I thank you for your interest in the issue, exposure to the issue, depth on and knowledge of the issue. I commend you.
Anthony: Thank you so much for joining. This is… Thank you, Beth. Thank you, Beth. It’s very eye opening. You can stick around and listen to Fred talk about stainless steel or you can run off.
I asked for this too last week. This is all my mistake. Last week, this Cybertruck thing’s coming out and it’s stainless steel, and there’s this myth that stainless steel doesn’t corrode, but you can tell that to the people who made my oven. And it’s just not true. I’ve seen it corrode. I, it’s got little rough spots on it.
But I’m also not driving my… Oven at 65 miles down the highway that’s just been salted with, rock salt. Fred, stainless steel, let’s pretend there’s a car, we’ll call it the stupid 9000, and it’s wrapped in stainless steel. It’s not painted by a guy named John DeLorean in Belfast, made by somebody else.
How does this have a crumple zone? This stainless steel work.
Fred: Stainless steel, you’ve now entered a
Anthony: style of Fre. Oh no. You take some iron, you mix it with some coal or some charcoal and you mix it all about you, you do the hokey pokey.
Fred: That’s pretty good actually. Yeah. Oh, same.
Thank you. Steel is carbon mixed or dissolved in iron. Basically. That’s how you start with it. And Depending on how much carbon is in it, you’ve got all different kinds of steels or pig irons or what have you, and I won’t get into that. But if you have 11% Of the mix is chromium that’s generally considered the threshold for stainless steel.
You can put in more you can also put in less because there’s no government watchdog saying that your stove has got to have 11% chromium in it in order to be qualified as stainless steel. Certainly nobody in China is ever going to put less than the optimum amount of chromium in the stainless steel before it’s rolled into a an oven front.
But. There is another part of this is that the way it works is the dissolved chromium creates a very thin film of chromium oxide on the outside of the, of
Anthony: Oh, ladies and gentlemen, Fred just froze and we’re getting into chromium oxide. Oh, actually, wait, sorry, both of you guys just frozen me. That was great.
Fred: Chromium oxide, very thin protective layer, like one or two molecules thick on the outside of the stainless steel. That’s why it doesn’t rust. Aluminum does the same thing. There’s a very thin coating of aluminum oxide on the outside of aluminum, which is why it doesn’t corrode all that badly when it’s exposed to water.
Okay. So that’s fundamentals of stainless steel. Now, if you put certain chemicals on the stainless steel, you will penetrate through the coating, and one of the largest ones is chlorine. If you were to use your scrubbing bubbles with chlorine, With scrubbing bubbles with Clorox to clean the front of your stainless steel oven, then you’re going to destroy the coating that’s on it and the chlorine is going to react with the iron to form iron chloride, which then allows the water to penetrate through.
and attack the iron, turn it into rust. So then, so there’s a couple of issues with your oven. You may be using scrubbing bubbles with Clorox to clean it, or you may just have substandard amount of of chromium mixed into the iron and carbon to make the stainless steel. But we don’t want to talk about that.
We want to talk about the Tesla Cybertruck because that’s way more fun.
Anthony: Hey, I didn’t say that.
Fred: Mr. You’ve heard of Elon Musk. He’s the guy who’s got a lot of interest in the Cybertruck. He’s quoted saying the reason Cybertruck is so planar is that you can’t stamp ultra hard 30x steel because it breaks the stamping press.
So much wrong and perhaps a lot of hyperbole in there. So let’s take that apart a little bit. First of all, as far as I can tell, there’s no greater stainless steel that’s called 30X. That’s a number that they made up. And But since X now stands for Twitter, I’m going to call it 30 Twitter Stainless Steel for the purpose of this discussion.
Or just Twitter Steel, if I should forget to put the third in there. He says that it’s really hard, so it’s going to break the press. Hardness is different than strength, so they’re pretty much unrelated to each other. And you can make, in fact, stainless steel very hard by putting vanadium in it, which is why you’ll sometimes see vanadium attached to…
The knife that you buy because they want it to be hard. So it holds an edge for a long time, but so what it’s, the reason why they could do that demonstration where they hit it gently with a sledgehammer and it bounced back is not because it’s hard. It’s because the steel is thick. If you take any high strength steel and hit it with comparable hammer.
It’s going to bounce just back off. The extreme example, of course, would be a battleship that has very thick steel on the outside, not stainless steel, but it’s very thick steel. And if you hit it with a cannonball, the cannonball is going to bounce off. It’s got nothing to do with hardness. So a little bit of hyperbole there.
Then he said. You can’t stamp ultra hard 30x steel because it breaks the stamping press. You can’t bend it either, and if you look at the front end of the Cybertruck, it’s got some significant bends in it. So that means that it’s probably got an austenitic austenitic content. Now, there’s a famous English expression that relates to the transition between martensite and austenite, which are two different phases of steel.
That that you’re familiar with, but I’m going to ask you what that expression is and here’s the clue. The transition from martensite to austenite, which is a more pliable kind of steel, occurs at an elevated temperature.
Anthony: This is a very famous British quote that I think the Beatles made famous by saying, I am the walrus, I am the eggman, cuckoo, ca choo.
Fred: That’s a good guess. There’s another, Michael, you got a guess?
Anthony: He went to law school. He hasn’t even realized his microphone’s muted. Oh, he’s gonna know the situation now. Okay, look at this.
Michael: I was speaking caught between the frying pan and the fire, but I don’t think that’s it either.
Fred: No, that’s not it either.
Anthony: I think you made up all of these terms, okay? Martensite. This is like stuff you took out of a Marvel comic book.
Fred: Oh no.
Michael: Obstinate is, describes a
Fred: lot of people think about it for a little bit. You can think about it for a little bit.
Anthony: That’s obstinate.
Fred: So if you look at the Twitter mobile, which is made from the 30 Twitter steel, then what you’ll see is the front of it has got some pretty, pretty dramatic curves in it, where the front panel comes over and encases the headlights.
And so that means that it in fact is malleable. It does have a lot of austenitic. characteristics to it. And and as you well know, you can preserve the austenitic characteristics of the stainless steel when it cools by putting in niobium and certain other chemicals that, that do that.
Anthony: Niobium on my toast every morning.
Fred: Anthony you’re so good. Anyhow, because of that, It’s not particularly hard, and it can easily be formed by bending. So the panels are actually being formed by something called a press brake, which is just like a giant… A giant squeezy thing that
Anthony: Now you’re finally speaking some words I understand.
Yeah. Giant squeezy brake. There we go. Let’s keep it to this level.
Fred: It’s like a giant vice that has a channel in it and you can figure if you put something in it and you squeeze it hard, it’s going to bend into that channel. That’s what a
Fred: is. Basically, a press brake is the weak sister of a a standard metal press.
That would form a body panel. So when he says that it breaks the stamping press. What he is really saying is they bought a really cheap press stamping press and it broke. It’s got nothing to do with the characteristics of the metal.
Anthony: I think what he’s really saying is he’s not really an engineer and I, but he’ll.
He’s more than happy for people to keep believing that he is an engineer.
Fred: Yeah, and I think that’s right. There’s there’s always a point in confusing people by making a hyperbolic comment. We’ve certainly seen a lot of that in public domain. But anyway and he talks about making it hard. So maybe it’s…
Cold rolled. People have talked about that as one way they could do it. He said, they’ve rolled it many times. That makes it hard and therefore it’s strong. But so here’s a here’s another question for you, and I’m going to come back to the famous expression later, but if you have a material where the bending strength is about the same as the tensile strength and you bend it, what’s likely to happen?
Anthony: It will snap. Yes. Yeah.
Fred: You win. You win. Yeah. So if in fact he, what he’s saying is it’s been cold rolled so many times that it’s very hard. What he’s really saying is it’s brutal. And so is that where he’s headed? I’m not sure. Time will tell, but I want to make, I want to make the point to our listeners that these are going to be extremely difficult to repair because normally when you have a dent in your vehicle and to go into a body shop, what they do is they bang it out with a hammer.
to get it as nice looking as they can realistically. Then they fill it in with some kind of putty or lead or some kind of material and then they paint it so it looks nearly as good as new. You can’t do that with these bodies with stainless steel because if you bang it out, it’s going to look like it’s banged out.
This is an exercise you can try at home. Take one of your stainless steel pans, hit it with a hammer, there you go. Take that, hit it with a hammer and then try to straighten it out and make it look new again. I just tried that. A really long time. How’d it go?
Anthony: I hurt my hand banging it against a stainless steel bottle.
Fred: Yeah, okay. What are you going to have
Anthony: to do with it? That is true. I am the type 2 size male dummy, female dummy. What am I? I don’t know. 5%. 5%. Aw, man. That sounds impressive. I’m 5%, I’m a 5%
So what’s going to happen with these things is they’re going to cut out a panel, put in a new panel, weld it into place, then they’ll have to grind the weld, and then they’ll have to brush it so that it looks like the rest of the stainless steel, which is used, of course, birds have pooped on it, all kinds of things have happened.
So brand new stainless steel doesn’t look like old stainless steel. It shows us history, but in welding, how do you weld something? You put two pieces of put two pieces of similar material together. And what do you do with the seam?
Anthony: You melt something in between it.
Fred: Yes, and when you melt it, you make it really hot, right?
Oh, it’s real hot. And when it’s really hot, you’re able to bend it, right? Because it’s gone into the austenitic phase.
Anthony: Ah, I learned the word austenitic. Hey,
Fred: alright, great. Gone from martensite to austenite. And then, when you cool it properly, you can preserve some of the austenitic character. But…
That’s the big clue for the famous English expression that relates to the phase transition between Austenite and Marchenite. It comes from the old horseshoe days.
Michael: Thin but not break?
Fred: No, not that.
Anthony: I once was on a horse named Austenite. It kicked up its heels and gave me such a… come
Fred: on. No, you’ve seen movies of the old days, right?
When there was a blacksmith shop. Yeah. And they were making horseshoes. Yeah. And what do they do? How do they make a horseshoe?
Anthony: A guy puts on a leather outfit and he twirls his moustache. That’s a couture. Oh.
Michael: He stands over a forge. And he bangs
Fred: it. Forge. There you go. Your head in the right direction.
Anthony: Bangs it with a hammer. And what do they do in the forge?
Michael: Forge things. They forge a head. They forge a
head so that it can become bendable.
Fred: Yes. Yes, Michael. And then what do they do with it? They cool it off once
Fred: get into the shape? No. No. Before they cool it off,
Michael: what do they do? They bang on it. Really?
Fred: They bang on it. They bang on it. And why do they bang on it at that particular point?
Anthony: Because it sounds cool.
Michael: Because it’s malleable at that point.
Fred: Very good. . And the expression related to that is it starts with
Anthony: strike while the iron’s hot.
Fred: There you go. You got a winner? Yeah. Woo-hoo. What? What I win? You knew more about metallurgy than you thought you did. Anyway, the There’s a let me just say there’s a lot of hyperbole associated with the marketing that’s going along with the Cybertruck and the stainless steel, and to our listeners, beware.
Make sure you get a well stocked wallet if you’re going to get one of these things. And you think that it might ever do what every other car in the world does, which is get dented over time.
Anthony: Now, so real quick, so you mentioned Oxides quite a few times in this. So I imagine this is a vehicle. It’s a car.
It’ll be used in the Outside in nature and nature on roads, they’ll put down things like rock salt or the your
car, not just underneath undercoating. What happens when this stuff hits the top of your car? Will that break apart some stuff?
Fred: The chromium? Yeah what, cause what happens is… Remember the chemistry, the chromium has to oxidize in order for it to protect the stainless steel, right? That’s fundamental.
So what happens when you’re on the road, sand gets kicked up, right? Things get abraded you run into sticks. Whenever any abrasive hits the side of the vehicle, you’re going to momentarily at least scrape off the protective chromium oxide coating. And if you think of winter travel what’s on the road?
Sand, which is abrasive, and salt, which has got chlorine in it. It’s pretty much the perfect mix for destroying the surface finish of the stainless steel.
Anthony: And it’s not like a standard car where you can, you can reapply some sort of finish over it or, waxing it because every car obviously gets affected with this, but I don’t see every car turning to rust.
My, my question is, since this is quote unquote stainless steel, is it going to break down easier in these winter conditions?
Fred: It’ll probably break down less rapidly. Then a car that is unprotected. Now, most cars today are very well protected. They’ve got good paint on them. They’ve got undercoating, they’ve got all that stuff in them.
And you don’t often see cars that are rusted out anymore. You do still see them, but not as much. I don’t think that there’s any indication that the cyber truck or the Twitter truck, as I like to call it, will rust spontaneously and rapidly when it’s exposed to winter conditions, but it’s not going to look new when it’s not new.
And it certainly will show its age, and it’ll be very difficult to repair, very expensive to repair when the time comes to repair it body shops are not set up right now to weld in brand new panels and do all the close work that’s required to make it optically consistent with the rest of the vehicle, which is really what you’re asking them to do when you say the Cybertruck’s got a nice flat panel and it’s beautiful and the sun glints off it just that’s hard to do in a repair situation. When you weld in a new panel the old panel is going to buckle, right? Because it’s going to expand when it gets hot. And then it’s, when it cools down, it’s going to contract because it’s cooling down. This is a, it’s a difficult thing to do. And shops are not set up to do that.
They may learn how to do it. But I, my prediction is that you’re going to be paying through the nose to fix these things.
Anthony: Okay here’s a public safety announcement, service announcement for our tech bro listeners. Yo, tech bros, okay, I know you’re micro dosing right now, but when you get your cyber truck, yeah, those kids in high school that made fun of you’ve won, okay?
You’ve got it. Don’t aim this vehicle at women, okay? I know, you’re probably an incel, probably got some issues don’t aim them at women, okay? Ever. And you’re not going to gain any friends from this vehicle. I look, this is just my personal opinion, not necessarily the opinion of the center for auto safety.
Michael: Anthony loves bashing tech bros.
Anthony: Yo tech bros, cause we’re all micro dosing. That was that was very helpful, Fred. Thank you very much. I feel I know a little bit more about stainless steel.
Fred: Okay. What’s your takeaway about scrubbing bubbles?
Anthony: I don’t, I didn’t use scrubbing bubbles on our stove.
It was rusted when we moved into this place. It’s not like a lot of rust, a little here and there. And I’ve used stainless steel cleaner in my previous life. So I know not to use scrubbing bubbles.
Fred: Oh, you’ve been a bartender. Oh, that’s great.
Anthony: No I, no I worked in a seven 11 for. From 12 to 20.
Fred: Hey, even better, not better at all.
Michael: He was the guy under the hot dog machine that turned the crank
Anthony: No, I was the guy at 6 in the morning guys going hey, give me that one, right? I don’t think that’s food anymore. No, that’s the one I want. Are you sure? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What’s the damage? Your colon.
Your colon’s in damage. Anyway, with that, let’s move on to a handful of recalls, and we’ll let people get free with their life. Get
Free! We got a handful of recalls, and here’s a fuel leak from damaged fuel tube. This one, I believe, just came oh, this is a Toyota. Yeah, this is the one that popped up today.
It just came up today. Exciting, fresh off the press, there’s 168, 000 plus vehicles. Toyota’s recalling certain 2022 to 2023 Tundra and Tundra hybrid electric vehicles. The plastic fuel tube routed near metallic brake lines may chafe against the brake lines. Really? Oh yeah, you put plastic next to metal, it’s gonna chafe.
That’s a shocker. Hey. Owners contact Toyota customer support and they’ll replace it free.
Michael: And that’s going to be probably coming out. It looks like owners won’t even get notified until October 9th, but yeah. Oh, Toyota is currently preparing the remedy parts for this recall. So they haven’t quite got everything together.
So they’re going to. Do a temporary measure for owners now, and it looks like you’re going to have to go back in once they get everything together. So it looks like a 2 part repair to, they’re going to put out 1 to make sure that you’re okay for now. Probably something in that general area that prevents the chafing that’s going on.
And then it looks like you’re going to be headed back to your dealer twice for this 1 to get the final fix.
Anthony: Okay, that’s always fun. They’re just gonna put some gold bond on it. Front passenger airbag may deploy improperly. Oh, that scares the hell out of me. General Motors only 317 vehicles.
That’s pretty good.
Michael: It’s the Bolt EVs, and it looks like they had a number of them that were, that perforation
Missing that if that isn’t there, the airbag won’t be able to deploy properly. And so they’re going to replace your instrument panel.
Anthony: That’s great, that’s only 300 and some odd vehicles, and it’s on the passenger side, and since we’ve learned, only your wife sits on the passenger side, just take your time with that repair.
Kidding people. Okay last one. Inaccurate pedestrian warning sounds. This one sounds good. This is FMVSS, which we all know stands for Federal Motor… Vehicle safety standard one 41. Oh, look at that big smile. Michael’s faith. It’s not his favorite one. All right. This is Mazda 17, 600 vehicles. This is a, the recalling certain 2024 CX 90 vehicles because they thought it’s a stupid name.
Software in the approaching vehicle audio system information. Soundbox amplifier may be missing. What the hell, huh?
Michael: So in the little this is a new, a somewhat new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that’s, that was actually, I think, just finalized within the last few years, and this is one of the very few recalls we’ve seen on it.
It’s basically the sound you’re supposed to have at low speeds in a hybrid to alert pedestrians aren’t working here.
Anthony: Oh, I love this. This is the little whistler sounds or things like that, because you don’t hear the EV coming down to barrel down the road and hit you. That’s it. Oh, I understand this one.
Ooh, FMVSS141. I guarantee we’ll hear a lot about this one in the future. And that’s it for now. I think we’re good. Everyone happy? No, not women, because they’re not being crash tested. Come out slightly wrong, but… Hey, we want to thank our special guest today, Beth Brook who is smart enough not to stick around for a discussion of metallurgy.
Oh, come on. Wait a minute. No, that was, mind blowing. I still just completely shocked that they don’t test for women driving cars in safety things. In safety things? Wow. Coffee wearing off. You’re really falling off. You started strong. I, it’s going downhill, gentlemen. Thanks listeners, go to autosafety. org, click that donate button, subscribe to this podcast in your favorite app of your choice, they’re available on every app imaginable except for ones that just came out yesterday maybe tell all your friends, and contact your congresspeople and be like, yo, I know a woman, make cars safer for them, Fred has a simple solution, and stroke of the pen.
Fred: Get women in the driver, women in the driver’s seat. We’ve been trying for that
Michael: idea. Just swap it out. Give the women 50 years of advantages since the men have already had their time in the driver’s seat, right? Yeah.
Fred: Somebody asked Ruth Bader Ginsburg how many men she thought should be in the Supreme Court or how many women she thought should be in the Supreme Court.
And she said, they should all be women. You guys have had this for 200 years. Why don’t you give us a turn? And same thing is true for the, same thing is true for the vehicles. Give the women a turn and design for them. Give them equal status. I’m all for it. And the more women take over, remember, the more we can sit around and scratch ourselves and, just watch the world evolve.
It’s good for everybody.
Anthony: Ah, good scratching. Thanks listeners.
Fred: Thank you. Bye everybody. Bye bye. For more information visit www. autosafety. org.