The recall of 67 million airbag inflators

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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.

Michael: I’m getting bombarded by local folks and national folks on the Arc Recall.

Hey, or whatever that is.

Anthony: Morning listeners, your support goes to help Michael being bombarded. Yeah, I started the show already.

Michael: That’s okay. We can always cut the first part out. Could, but

Anthony: I won’t. So the very first part, I will cut out the very first. Let’s see. Anyway listeners, Hey, welcome back for another exciting episode of their Auto be a Law.

Hey, what do you guys think of that as a title? Their, oh, another. That’s great.

Michael: Not

Anthony: really asking automobile. I’m asking our listeners. Hey, listen, I’m listening. I’m listening. Thank you. What, dude? What? And because look, let’s be honest here. The name, the Center for Auto Safety Podcast. Not that exciting. It’s to the point.

It’s straight. It’s like generic. But how about their auto, A U T O B law? Huh? Huh.

Fred: It’s great. I admire your enthusiasm. Just saying it, it fairly rolls off your tongue.

Anthony: I don’t know if I’m enthusiastic about it. I, yeah, anything’s better. But anyway we’ve got another big airbag recall news.

Now you’ve all heard us talk about the Takata airbag situation where unfortunately, these things will explode and launch shrapnel into the driver’s face, the passenger’s face. There’s another big one that NHTSA was investigating for eight years, is that right? Eight years. And they finally came around to last Friday recall demand of about 67 million airbag inflaters supplied by Arc Automotive, a r c Automotive.

These were put in at least 12 car OEMs in use these, including GM, Volkswagen Hyundai dating back to the early two thousands. Until last Friday, automakers had conducted seven limited recalls covering about 6,400 vehicles. But now it’s every single one made by this company here. And this sounds a lot like, to me, like the Takata situation where their inflater cartridges are exploding in people’s faces.

Is this the same issue?

Michael: It’s n it’s not. And I’m trying to be really clear about that because in the Takata situation, what you had was a design defect fundamentally, that if all of the airbags weren’t remedied, the chances of them the inflaters exploding, increased significantly over time due to exposure to environmental conditions generally high absolute humidities and temperatures.

And that’s a design defect. They didn’t they did not design the propellant or the housing for the propellant to take account take into account those environmental changes over time. In the art situation, the prevailing theory art actually still denies this theory based on their testing, but the theory that NHTSA put out for the defect is that there’s some welding sl or welding flash, they call it both interchangeably.

It seems that remains inside of the Inflater housing after the manufacturer of the inflaters and before they’re installed in vehicles. And what that SL or flash does is essentially clogs the outlet port or hole that goes to the actual airbag. So all of that pressurized gas is flowing out of the inflater into the airbag to inflate it and hopefully save someone’s life.

But, It doesn’t, this slag or whatever it is, flash is not present in every single one of those 67 million airbags that we know of. It appears that they eliminated that, that problem in 2018. They did a, a change of process in their manufacturing where they use a borescope. I assume that’s something like they use when you get a colonoscopy, that they stick inside of the inflator to make sure there’s no leftover junk in there before final assembly.

So that it avoids this issue of possible debris or whatever preventing the airbag from deploying properly and functionally turning into a bomb. So it’s a manufacturing defect. This is, the kind of thing you wonder, does it happen, on late Friday afternoon when workers are ready to get home for the weekend and aren’t being as careful about their process?

Is it, a manufacturing defect that says that there weren’t enough controls and put in place in the art facilities to be sure that, these inflaters were cleaned before final assembly, but they, so it’s very different than Takata. We don’t have any indication that the risk of this defect appearing rises as the vehicles get older.

Okay. Which was a significant concern at Tata and Tata. If nothing had been done in 2015 moving forward, we would probably be seeing hundreds of deaths per year at this point. Because the Honda Airbags that we’ve seen are the oldest in the Takata recall the MIT’s administrator about three or four months ago said, there is a 50% chance of this condition occurring and crashes involving those vehicles, which is a significant rise from, the very limited number of incidents we saw.

Even at Takata. We’ve seen 30 deaths, a little more over 30 deaths worldwide in the Takota situation. And that number, I believe would’ve been e extremely higher, significantly higher if NHTSA hadn’t stepped in and forced a recall. The odd thing in the in this circumstance also, I think it’s important to talk about the recall process.

So n has. Made a recall request. They’ve been investigating this for almost eight years. There was a lot revealed in the documents passed back and forth from NHTSA. Basically, they had a task force between the manufacturers, NHTSA and ARC that has been studying this issue, taking airbags out of circulation, seeing if they have the defect for many years now.

And according to arc, they really don’t see a pattern that allows them to call this a defect. NHTSA disagrees. NHTSA issued a recall request. That’s the first informal step in the recall process. NHTSA still has to do an initial defect determination. That is essentially where they lay out the engineering argument.

Or a defect in these inflaters. And at that point there could be a public hearing arc has a chance to defend itself. And then after that the d o ts I believe this goes up to the secretary, Pete’s level has to make a a final defect finding defect determination that essentially forces the manufacturer to do the recall, unless the manufacturer wants to take it to court and challenge that decision, which, you know, given the resistance to, a recall that ARC has displayed that might be possible.

And they’ve also presented some, legal arguments to suggest that because they’re not. A, they’re not the final stage vehicle manufacturer and nor do they consider themselves an equipment manufacturer. I think that’s arguable that they aren’t even subject to mitz a’s recall authority.

So that’s a, that’s an interesting argument. And because vehicles in their final shape and form, the manufacturer has the responsibility to recall those vehicles. They’re, that is an argument that I see them making long term. It’s not an it’s very technical and it doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface.

On the surface, but, perhaps that’s an argument that works to them long term. But what’s important in that situation is that the manufacturers here have, I think there have been seven recalls around this issue. Mainly they were doing recalls of the batches. Of Inflaters that they saw actual events take place in.

So someone had an inflater explode in Michigan in 2009. They went and recalled that batch of airbags or airbag inflaters. And so they were doing small recalls to address these, what they are perceiving as a, manufacturing defect that occurred in certain batches. There were certain batches that potentially had this welding issue, but they weren’t willing to say this whole population of 60 million air, 67 million airbags was defective.

Concurrent with NHTSA releasing this information last Friday, GM announced a recall of almost a million vehicles containing these airbags. And that’s what I think we expect to happen over the next few weeks, maybe months. Even if NHTSA does not. Continue its process to a defect determination.

But I think they probably will, but we just don’t know. A and the other manufacturers, cause NHTSA has done a recall request. These are rare and I wanna highlight that too. It’s exceedingly rare for NHTSA to make a formal or even a, it’s not even formal, it’s informal recall request and make that public.

That happens, that happened in Teta. It’s happened. Maybe once every two to three years throughout NHTSA’s history. So you have many years where there may be a almost a thousand recalls, and not a single one of them was requested in this way by nhtsa. Typically it occurs when a manufacturer has shown signs of resistance to a recall.

So this is a rare circumstance and I think what we’re going to see next are manufacturers start to step up to the plate and recall these things voluntarily. I, I don’t know what that means for arc. I don’t know if they’re fighting, like in Takata, Takata went bankrupt. It’s really hard, in almost every product you’ve made for the past 20 years is recalled to survive that kind of event, and I don’t know if if GM recalls these airbags, if ARC then has to manufacture new airbags for gm, GM has to pay them for those new airbags.

A lot of that stuff is, are things that are hidden in contracts we’ll never see. But it’s a very interesting situation and something that, since these airbags are all over America right now, we, there are at least 33, 30 4 million vehicles that have them. If they’re in the passenger and driver’s side, we’re not sure the number may be higher, maybe 40, 50 million vehicles.

That’s another issue. No one knows yet which vehicles are actually covered, which vehicles actually have these airbags in it. And that’s something we think NHTSA needs to, let consumers know if they even know yet. That’s it in a very large nutshell. That’s a

Anthony: Very large nutshell.

That left me with a bunch of questions here. Okay. So as a consumer, if I have one of these things, I just have to wait and hope that my, my car manufacturer does a voluntary recall. So like what you’re saying Yeah. GM is doing right now, they’ve alerted 1 million owners that, Hey, here’s a voluntary recall.

We’re fixing this. Okay. And that

Michael: was, GM’s recall was a voluntary recall of the million vehicles, including one model I wanna say it’s a Chevy Traverse that had three of the eight incidents that have occurred in America take place, I believe. So they, there’s a semi pattern there, and GM is coming in and saying, okay, we’re gonna go ahead and do this recall.


Anthony: This is gonna sound awful, but it says, okay, this is an eight year investigation. Two deaths, eight injuries out of. 64 million airbags. That sounds really low to me. Is what’s the threshold for putting some sort of recall on it? Is it one injury? Is it one death? Is it, where’s

Michael: the, where’s there is no concrete threshold.

Okay, historically what’s, yeah, and historically there’s not either there, we’ve seen manufacturers do recalls where there were zero really zero incidents and certainly see manufacturers do recalls where there were no injuries and certainly no fatalities. So from a manufacturer’s standpoint, it’s all over the place.

When NHTSA typically. This is probably, I would have to guess out of all of the recall requests Mitz has put out there, this is probably the one with the least amount of deaths and injuries involved. But

Anthony: is this publicly known deaths and injuries, like when I’m, this, is this can I, by factor 10

Michael: in this situation, I, there are some pretty.

ARC is reporting deaths and injuries and events ARC and the manufacturers, because ARC’s not gonna hear about a lot of these things. They’re gonna come from manufacturers, from lawyers and that sort of thing. So all of these events are probably being reported in this. So this doesn’t really fall into what we see in other areas where manufacturers are settling cases out of court and the public ne never hears about a defect.

There’ve been so much attention on these, and this has been so engaged that we have a pretty good idea of when and where these incidents are occurring. So it’s, yes, it is a low number and that is part of the big challenge here. It is a low number, and like I said, this is probably not like Takata where we’re looking at a growing risk.

Okay. So it’s, A has resisted, they’ve essentially refused to do a recall. That’s even rare than a recall request. So we’re at this point, we’re in wait and see mode. Are the manufacturers going to step up with the plate and say, you know what? We’re just gonna get this over with and we know a recall’s coming rather than fight it and spend all this money.

And the big part here is owners who are going to be approaching their manufacturers saying, what the hell do I have this airbag in my call? Is the first question. None of us really know. I think if you look at the vehicles that NHTSA has listed as part of the investigation you only get to a few million out of the, 30 to 40 million vehicles that might be involved.

So no one knows right now other than the manufacturers which vehicles they installed these airbags in. So that’s an important step in, in being transparent with the public, letting them know, Hey, we might be at risk. But even then, People and we saw this a lot in Takata, people don’t like the idea, obviously, of driving around with a bomb right in front of their chest.

And it’s, they face a lot of customer blowback if they refuse to do these recalls. So it’s certainly interesting in light of the low number of incidents. It’s going to be, it looks like it might be a long road ahead if the manufacturers refuse to perform these recalls, and this is forced to take further action.

But if the manufacturers recognize that this problem might get out of hand, they could step in and do the recalls at any moment, really.

Anthony: I see the big benefit of this voluntary recall of being now the manufacturers can’t claim that they didn’t know this was a problem. They can’t be in that situation.

We didn’t know this would happen. Somebody else made this la our head was in the sand. So now we’re all put on notice saying, Hey, there’s a potential problem here. You should check your inventory. Yeah. Check what you built. Okay.

Michael: That’s a tough decision, for some manufacturers that don’t even have an incident.

Yeah. Reported.

Anthony: But I’m sure with Takata, the same sort of thing happened, right?

Michael: They’re saying, we’ve got this. Yeah. Because most of the initial Takata and a lot of the Takata ones are Hondas and some Fords. It’s a tough decision from them. From that standpoint.

Some of these vehicles are literally, I think the oldest we’ve seen is a model year, two thousands. You’re talking about a 23, 20, almost 24 year old vehicle that hasn’t, none of their fleet has had any of these issues. And I, frankly, they can make an argument when the vehicle’s that old that the recall might not apply because there is somewhat of a statute of limitations on recalls at 15 years.

So I don’t know what’s gonna happen here. What do you think, Anthony?

Anthony: I think Fred has some comments he wants to add.

Fred: Yeah. I, this is particularly reprehensible because a r c, also known as Atlantic Research Corporation, has long been in the business of providing similar devices to the military. There is no way that this device, if it had been put through the qualification process for a military analog would’ve ever passed.

There’s too much junk in it. The standards that it’s holding the inflaters to are nothing like what it would be required for a military or commercial application in other venues. So it’s apparent that a r c went out of its way to develop a process to produce substandard inflaters that had then exported to a lot of other companies who are building these inflaters under license to a r c.

So it’s pretty insidious that they’ve developed a substandard inflation inflater development process that they’ve exported around the world to various manufacturers that leave the public at risk. This is really a, why would they do that? Why would they drop their standards, produce crap, and then sell it?

This is this is really inexcusable, in my opinion. Takado is inexcusable too, because they too didn’t qualify their inflaters. Under environmental conditions that are representative of aging. There, there are things called accelerated aging processes and accelerated aging. Aging tests you can do.

But both of these problems go back to the fundamental problem, which is that NHTSA does not require adequate qualification of airbag inflaters before they’re put in vehicles. All of these inflaters can potentially have catastrophic failures, which can injure people who are in front of the inflaters.

There absolutely should be a qualification process. These standards have been developed by the military over a long time. They’re readily available. I don’t understand why NHTSA and anyone else in the Department of Transportation hasn’t taken this step to make sure that the equipment being put in cars is safe for the occupants.

Anthony: I like that. Let’s all get on NHTSA’s case and standardize this. You guys told me this I think one of the first episodes where the inflaters, they can use anything they want. Still surprising to me. Yeah. So consumers pay attention to your emails and mail from your car manufacturer and do not ignore any notice.

You get on a recall notice like they’re don’t make the mistake that unfortunately too many Takata airbag owners have and just throw these things out and get contacted 20, 30, 40 times. Really this is I’m sure a as time will show that the, this, they will not be charging you the consumer to fix this defect.

I don’t, I can’t guarantee that, but based on past performance something. Anyway,

Michael: yeah. And there was one more little note on this. I noticed there was a Wall Street Journal article that was evaluating the. It’s investigation, timing and how long investigations take.

And, NIT was eight years. Yeah. And this was an eight year investigation. And, if you read through what they were doing and you and, when you look at this situation it’s going to take a lot of investigation because it’s very complex. They’re very low number of incidents.

It’s, it’s an edge case. It’s a tough one. And I think that should be clear. So NHTSA, and as part of that article in Wall Street Journal, they interviewed the administrator, previous administrator of NHTSA, who just recently left. And he, said, Nitza doesn’t have the funds.

He made it very clear. And that’s something that you’ll hear us say a lot on this podcast. That NSA doesn’t have enough money to conduct the type of broad scale technical investigations it needs to do in these situations. And that’s something that Congress needs to address. I believe that NHTSA’s budget has been artificial artificially kept low for many years by pressure from the industry starting around the time of Ronald Reagan.

So there’s certainly an issue there. And as we see more software dump into cars, autonomous vehicles, crash avoidance systems, and all this other mess, then nits is going to need significantly more resources. I won’t get into how little money they get per life loss compared to the f a, but you can find those numbers online quickly, and they’re astounding.

It’s literally astounding how little money NHTSA gets to carry out safety investigations and research and enforcement.

Anthony: For those of you keeping score at home that is one. Vote NHTSA needs regulations, another vote that NHTSA needs more funding. Know who also needs more funding Us, we do. Go to auto

G click Donate. Donate. And because if you don’t, I can turn this entire episode into a month long N P R P B S pledge dried episode. And if you tune in now, we will send you a tele bag. And you love when we play the Boston Pops. It’s so much fun. Oh, coming up. We’ll be in the Berkshires. Doing something else that no one cares about.

Sorry. Okay. Maybe you know, I haven’t been to the Berkshires. They look lovely. I think one of our colleagues might live close relatively to the Berkshires. I won’t out you Fred. But, fund the Center for Auto Safety. A lot of you are stepping up. It’s amazing. These organization have been around for 300 years.

Okay? Close to 40, 50 years. 50 years. 50, 53. 53 years. Oh my god. It’s older than Google. People click. Donate, subscribe, tell your friends. And speaking of fun software, let’s go into our latest update on Tesla. So Tesla has this thing called full self-driving. It is not full self-driving people. Please do not believe it.

And there’s a lovely article, which we’ll link to from ours, Technico. And it talks about their full self-driving. Hey, look, it identifies pedestrians. So in the Teslas they have these little screen where you can see this kind of graphic presentation of, Hey, I can identify a car, I can identify a stop sign.

And in this update I can identify a pedestrian. And so what does it do as a pedestrian’s going through a crosswalk with a sign in the crosswalk that says, vehicles must yield to pedestrians. For those of you on unsure what yield is, like the person who cut me off two days ago stop, essentially stop.

They the pedestrians have the right of way in this instance. But the Tesla fan boys, for lack of a better term said, this is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen on Tesla Full Self driving 11.4 0.1. This is a pro 11.4 0.1. Oh my God, it detected the pedestrian, but rather than slamming on the brakes, it just proceeded through like a human would.

Knowing there was enough time to do no fanboy. What you just said is, Hey, rather than obey the traffic laws, it just said, nah. It went right through that. If only somebody put together like a consumer bill of automated vehicle rights, you could see that perhaps these vehicles should be paying attention to traffic laws.

But I don’t know who would do such things.

Fred: I can’t imagine.

I don’t know. Somebody should get on that right away. What do you think?

Anthony: I think that’s a good idea. Yeah.

Michael: I mean it’s a little concerning when you see people cheering on a vehicle that’s ignoring pedestrians and crosswalks. Yeah. And saying things like, this is brave of Tesla. I think the guy who, who’s doing that is that whole mar catalog guy who just wants to be Elon’s best friend.

We, it’s absurd. They should be stopping for people in crosswalks. That’s state law. You’re violating state law. It’s just as bad as rolling through stop signs. You should be, it should be recalled.

Fred: I, the paraphrasing, this guy’s comment a little bit. This is great. The car’s as bad a driver as I am.

This is fantastic.

Anthony: Exactly. And the thing is, I’ve seen, I’ve seen in a beach town in New Jersey where they have the exact same things, these crosswalks must yield for pedestrians, or actually I think it says theirs is must stop. And I watched someone drive through people other than that, and a cop on a bicycle got in front of the car is like out now over to the side and ticketed them, which is great.

So if you’re gonna violate a law that you get pulled over by a cop on a bicycle your software isn’t quite ready for primetime folks. And in other Tesla news and this is one that I think is gonna become a bigger issue as more electric vehicles go on the road. Yeah.

Tesla is recalling. Millions of vehicles in China due to reduce the risk of collisions caused by drivers mistakenly stepping on the accelerator for an extended period. So this is an issue. So with electronic vehicles, maybe you guys can explain this. There’s something called one pedal driving.

Yeah. Essentially use the accelerator and when you back off the accelerator brakes are essentially well applied. And I believe it’s one the GM invented. It’s called regenerative braking. And so when you do that, it recaptures energy and helps charge the factory, right? Which from engineering point of view, is brilliant.

Absolutely like a brilliant idea. It’s if I had, remember I had a toy train set as a kid and it just had a throttle and you pulled back, you could feel the electrical charge go back. Maybe this thing wasn’t grounded and wasn’t really safe. I should not have felt that charge. So Teslas has to recall all these vehicles, cuz it sounds like people can’t handle regenerative braking.

And I’m not, this is not a critique cuz I, I think this is confusing for

Michael: people. I think it is too. And, there’s some confusion as to whether this is a recall or not. I’m pretty sure that the recall that just occurred in China was a feature update in the United States. It was basically an update that allowed Tesla drivers to change the Like the level of the regenerative braking so that it res, basically when you let off of the accelerator, it slows down slow, it slows down medium it, or it can slow down really quickly depending on what your settings are.

And depending on that setting, you will get more power back into the battery. So it’s something that I believe was announced as coming to Tesla vehicles in March or April in the United States. I’m I it appeared that there was some type of concern on the part of the Chinese authorities that the one pedal that, that there’s some kind of people have a cognitive problem performing one pedal driving that sometimes results in them hitting the accelerator instead of the brake.

And that might be behind the kind of the sudden acceleration events or that we see in Teslas where there have been a lot of those reported in the United States as well.

Fred: Let me, lemme me jump in here. The one pedal breaking is typically limited to a specific deceleration rate typically something like 0.2 Gs.

So what could easily happen is somebody takes their foot off the pedal and they are approaching a car in front of them more rapidly than they think is exactly the way they ought to be doing it. And they say, holy crap, I gotta, so they stamp on the, they stamp on the pedal, which their foot happens to be close to, and that happens to be the accelerator pedal, free advice to Tesla and everybody else in this business.

The proper way to do this is since you have a big computer in the car and you have a hydraulic breaking system, the proper way is for. The system to monitor the pressure in the brake after a person applies their foot to it, and for the computer to make a determination whether or not you can use regenerative braking to achieve the deceleration objective of the human being, eg not crash into the car in front of them, and then supplementing, switching over to hydraulic braking when needed.

This would be completely seamless to the user and it would also, should we patent this, Michael? I

Michael: love this. I don’t know, let’s do a search.

Fred: But there’s an easy fix that would keep people as traditionally drivers do, using a different foot position to accelerate from decelerate. And I think that’s the fundamental problem here.


Anthony: Fred, can you walk us through how this works a little bit? Because right now in my car, I have a gas pedal. It actually feeds gas into the engine, I assume, and a brake pedal, which, it slams Fred Flintstone’s feet on the floor. And so right now when I’m driving and like I, I’ll take my foot off of the gas and just hover it above it.

Cause I know I’m coasting or I don’t know if I technically am coasting. I’ve just, I’ve reached enough speed, I don’t have to hold the accelerator. Now I’m going down a large hill where I can hover it over the brake. Now with. An electric vehicle if I’m not applying pressure, is it applying brake power?

Like how does this work?

Fred: Yeah, that’s the way this is configured. So the electric motor driving the car can also be used as a generator. A motor looks a lot like a generator. If you look at them, they’re both, a metal case where the rotor inside and different things happening. These machines are designed to be used as regenerative braking and don’t you hate it when engineers split Harris, but Michael, it doesn’t store power store his energy.

Anyway. We’ll put that aside. So insult

Anthony: him cuz he went to law school. Come on.

Fred: Yeah, we like him anyway. So what happens is if you take your foot off the accelerator, the car says, okay, that clearly you want me to either maintain the speed that you got set in your cruise control or you want me to decelerate.

And so it’s got all these inputs, it’s looking out the front of the window saying there’s a car in front of me. I, as soon as I should decelerate, and the owner’s, the friendly owner’s foot is not on the pedal forcing me to go forward. So I’ll go ahead and slow down at a certain governed rate and things should be just fine.

And they probably are fine unless the person gets scared. Is that on point? No.

Anthony: Yeah, I think so. So I guess my scenario of right now and my gasoline powered car, I’m going down a large incline. I take my foot off the accelerator and the car will still keep speeding up. It will ca and I’m expecting this as a driver cause I’ve been driving for more than a couple weeks and I’m used to certain things and if I go to an electric vehicle and I assume I’m going down a hill, I don’t have to keep buying power.

Or feeding energy or whatever nerd term you want to use. If I take my foot off the accelerator, will the car continue to coast like it will in my gas powered car, or no? It’s going to start slowing down.

Fred: I think there is no standard answer for that. My guess is that if you have the cruise control set, it will begin to decelerate because it doesn’t wanna exceed the

Anthony: speed.

Yeah. Not cruise control, just

Fred: normal. Yeah. If you’re just normal and you’ve got a normal car, it’s going to just continue to speed up as you go down the hill. Sure.

Anthony: Okay. But, so if I take my foot off, it won’t start doing the regenerative braking

Fred: or? If you have a normal car, you don’t have regenerative brake.

No, sorry.

Anthony: With an electric vehicle. If I, that’s the scenario. So cuz as people transition to electric vehicles, it’s this type of thing I think people need a little training on. I, it took me three years to having a new car to understand what’s certain functions in the car do.

And I read the manual, like it, it seems like there’s a bit of a learning curve to an electric vehicle with this one pedal driving type situation. And Right

Fred: there certainly is, and it’s stupid. Nobody should ever have to do this. What you, the design should, rather than have a button, a glowing button that says, isn’t this cool?

It should be designed so that the human being has to do what they’ve always done, which is just to put their foot in the brake pedal. They can have more efficient braking if the car is designed to use regenerative braking to supplement the hydraulic braking which would be an easy fix and, something that could be done and should be done.

My opinion, but what it’s worth is that nobody should have to retrain themselves to get in and drive an electric car. They should be able to use what they’ve done forever driving their vehicle safely and continue to do what they’ve done forever to drive safely in an electric vehicle. It’s my opinion.

Anthony: So listeners, those of you who’ve switched to an electric vehicle or have one let us know what was that learning curve for you? Or if you were like, wait, I have regenerative braking. What’s that? Is, do I have to go see my doctor? Let us know what that transition was like.

Because yeah, I, with so much, I feel like I’m such a get off my lawn type rant right now, but there’s so many features inside modern cars, which I don’t know what’s happening in them. And so I think this is just another thing where, you get into the situation where people will unnecessary accidents.


Fred: One more, one more point on this. I’m sorry, I beg your pardon for the interruption. Go right ahead please. One more point. My first experience driving was in a one pedaled vehicle. It was in Nki Beach near Boston when I was about four years old. And we had an outing there and my mother put me in the bumper cars.

Which had one pedal control and said, go have a good time. So I went out there and because I was four years old, people started to gleefully bash my car from all directions. And I started to cry and eventually I got out of there with many tears on my face. And this is why I never became an F1 driver.

Michael: Thus started the felonious path.

Anthony: Yeah. This is what led during this entire story, listeners, Fred was scratching the top of his head. I think he was reliving kind of some sort of his CRA injury.

Fred: I’m still traumatized by that.

Anthony: So mothers out there don’t put your kids inside bumper cars because they wind up working with the center of Proto safety as adults.

All right. So listeners, look, I think Fred had a great idea and we should patent what he was talking about, but patents are really expensive to get. And if you donate, you can get us one step further to maybe, possibly, perhaps really not ever doing a patent on this. But you’ll help us and and it’ll pay for Fred’s therapy for his traumatic brain injury caused by a bumper car.

Speaking of the problems of modern cars, don’t you think touchscreens suck? I do. Oh my God, I have to hit buttons multiple times. I am, I’m gonna get into a crash just despite the touchscreen in my car because it’s always dismiss this, dismiss that. It’s covering up my map and me playing Angry Birds while I drive.

Okay? It’s covering up a map. I’m not playing angry Birds. But hey, Warren, I’m not the only person and Michael, who’s nodding on screen with me, who’s not the only person to think touchscreens suck. Buttons are coming back. Consumers have been getting a little annoyed. Hey, I like a button. A good old fashioned button in cars.

So it looks like wait, it where did it go? Anyway, it looks like buttons are coming back. Somebody

Michael: jump in. So this kind of goes back a little to Fred’s point about, building cars to, to let humans do the things they’ve always done, to do things like turn the lights, air conditioner, radio.

When we’re talking about breaking it’s a, it’s in the safety issue here isn’t, breaking an acceleration. It is driver distraction. Touchscreens. Simply distract drivers more than buttons and knobs and places where we can, become accustomed to where they are and hit them without even glancing away from the road.

Touchscreens don’t really work the same way. And, a number of studies have found over the years that they probably present a distracted driving risk that we need to be aware of moving forward in vehicle design. We also know that manufacturers are love touch screens because they’re cheaper.

It doesn’t require the wiring to every button that goes into the car. It requires basically a central command unit from which those things are carried out. So it’s cheaper for manufacturers, so they probably prefer the touchscreen approach. And so it’s interesting that they’re pulling back.

From that. And I think it’s really, because this is the number one thing that consumers hate about modern cars. I think consumer reports that are large look at this a year or two ago, and it’s just something people can’t get accustomed to and really don’t like. So some manufacturers are pulling back from it, which is probably a good thing when it comes to driving and distraction.

But there are obviously other manufacturers who are going forward. Fully into this new world of screens where your entire control system is going to be, everything in front of you is going to be a screen that you’ll have to somehow interpret and figure out. And, that’s, that poses issues.

Just like the one pedal driving in region breaking, we’re having to basically retrain people how to drive and no one is retraining them. They’re just buying these cars and hopping at ’em and going, yeah. So that’s

Anthony: a problem with the touchscreen now. So I’ll use Google, Android Auto, that’s what it’s called.

And I plug my phone into my car and it’s great. I get a map on a screen, which I love, but then it also has these row of icons underneath it, and I gotta play Guess that icon, which app is this associated with? And, hey, where did my music app go? Why is it replaced with some other app? Yeah it’s a nightmare.

So I’ve actually started using the whole voice commands which actually works surprisingly well. So ba just get rid of button, man. Just, we just talked to the car. Yeah. Hey, Fred, you still there? I know you. Yes. I’m

Fred: requesting permission

Anthony: to rant. Oh. I wasn’t gonna go into the tower. I was gonna give you a different rant to go on.

Fred: This is the oh, okay. So many

Anthony: little time. This is a good wrench. Fred, let’s say I have a Tesla and it catches on fire. How many firetruck should be following me to put the fire out?

Fred: How many angels does it take to stand on the head of a pin? I’m, if you use new advanced robotic fire trucks apparently somewhat less than the 10 that are traditional.

Anthony: Yeah, so a British company has developed a firetruck to extinguish electric vehicle and car park fires. Although electric vehicles are statistically less likely to catch fire than an internal combustion engine incidents involving a lithium ion battery can be far more serious and difficult to extinguish.

And so in the past Fred has pointed out that you’ll need 30 firetrucks worth of this stuff, where this company has come along with a a firetruck that is designed to fit into car parks and a normal size firetruck and not and instead of using water, they’re using something called cooled cut cobra which is a high pressure lance using abrasive suspended water to appears to hole through floor plans four floor pans and inject water.

Water at 300 bar.

Fred: So here’s what I don’t understand about this. It’s trying to adapt a manufacturing technology that’s well established using high pressure water to cut things. That’s how your granite countertop vendor cut the granite to fit into your kitchen. So it’s been around a long time.

What I understand about this is that if you drive a nail through a standard lithium ion battery, it bursts into flames. Yeah. So if you drive a hot water jet through a lithium ion battery, why doesn’t it also burst into flames? It seems to me that this has as much prospect for increasing the number of damaged cells if it doesn’t happen to hit the one that’s flaming as it does to extinguish the fire more rapidly.

I don’t know. I, this is questionable to me. Typically in a fire, you don’t have the luxuries of going through extensive engineering analysis to say exactly, what’s happening here. That’s usually done post-fire

Anthony: well from the article in Fire Apparatus magazine.

Ah, I missed cat fancy. This water cools directly inside the battery and thus prevents propagation and further possibility of a thermal runaway.

Fred: Sure. So what are the conditions where this is gonna work? The conditions that it’s going to work are that you have one cell or a small number of cells that have been damaged and are about ready to cause damage to other cells because they’re on fire.

Number one, a limited number of cells. Number two, you know exactly where these cells are so that you can hit them and not the other cells. And then number three you’ve gotta hope that. The chemicals that are combusting are going to be, in fact extinguished by the water jet that you’re now pointing at them.

I hope it works. I think there’s a lot of, lot of uncertainty between here and there.

Michael: Yeah. It looked like it was it looked like it was, it was a cool idea. It was a kind of a short truck so it could fit into garages and parking structures. I, I think that’s probably, that’s been a huge concern in the last couple of years.

We’ve seen a lot more parking garages banned certain vehicles that are under recall or park outside warning from those garages. And typical firetrucks can’t get into these places. They’re too high. It’s interesting idea and, I’m not sure, like Fred, I’m not sure how they discover in that limited amount of time.

First of all, these are gonna be arriving on scene after these fires have started and begun to propagate. I’m not sure, depending on how long it takes, they may or not, may not arrive to just, other cars and the structure fire. It doesn’t, it seems like they would have to be there relatively quickly in order to gauge the battery with this water jet before that fire propagated to other cells in the battery.

I don’t know. I have a lot of questions about it, but, it’s, we need solutions and maybe this is somewhere along the way to a solution for this problem.

Anthony: Michael has questions. Brad has questions. If you’re a representative of Cold Cut Cobra, we’d love to have you on. I won’t use that voice necessarily.

I probably can’t help myself. I will use cold but Cobra. But seriously, I think we’d love to find out how this works because we all know this is a problem of thermal runaway, not thermal runway, as I’ve said on a previous episode, but thermal runaway. So his vocal cords are warm. He’s been stretching.

He’s got on his tracksuit. He’s ready to go. It’s time for the towel of Fred. You’ve now

Michael: entered the Dow

Anthony: of Fred, the Consumer AV Bill of Rights, lucky number 13. Is this the final one? Yes it is. This is

Fred: the last one? Yeah, for

Michael: now. Okay. There may be more. We’re planning to do some work and add things as things come up.

So there is no limit on the number of rights that we consumers have when it comes to avs, right?

Anthony: Yeah. I said this is the towel Fred, not the interruptus of Michael.

Fred: This is, yeah, there’s no end to what could happen. But as we’ve configured the AV consumer Bill of Rights, we think it’s a minimum set that must be included in every safe vehicle configuration.

And this is the last one. AV shall not increase the transportation sector environmental burden over their design lifetime. There’s a lot of talk about how switching to EVs is going to save the world. It’s going to solve all of our carbon problems and all that sort of stuff. None of this has been established.

In any kind of firm, well-developed analytical basis. Just to lay it out there, AVS must plan for safe handling, post-deployment protection of humans in the environment and end of life sequestration, or is recycling of hazardous chemicals and materials used in AV manufacturing or operation.

So just a couple of them to give you a taste of what this is all about. Most of the batteries, maybe all of the batteries have cobalt in them, and cobalt has lots of problems that are associated with it. Let’s see. Says here that the National Institutes of Health says, in the mid 1960s, breweries became adding cobalt to beer as a foam stabilizer.

Subsequently, heavy beer drinkers began to present with a distinct dilated cardiomyopathy syndrome called beer drinkers, myopathy. You don’t want to get that. There’s a lot of other problems associated with it. Endocrine problems abnormal thyroid. The use of EVs is going to increase, dramatically increase the amount of cobalt that is in the environment.

Not to mention the effect on poor people in Africa who are digging us outta the ground in illegal minds and legal minds. It’s a very, it’s a very messy, dangerous chemical. Another chemical that’s prevalent in batteries is manganese. And a manganese is known to cause lots of neurological problems.

Symptoms very similar to Parkinson’s disease and people who have been working with it. Again, not a good idea. These are. Only a sampling of the kind of chemical problems that are associated with EVs that are really unique to and accelerated by the expanded use of these chemicals, cobalt, manganese, et cetera, in their manufacturer.

They’re resource limitations around the world that are associated with these as well, and giant mines that are being built to produce lithium. It, it must be addressed because it’s a, and some places an existential problem associated with the people working on it. The other part of this is that AVS must not increase vehicle lifetime end-to-end energy consumption compared to conventional vehicles with due consideration of electrical generation, distribution, conversion, and storage efficiencies.

And the impact of unoccupied operation by avs, which some people talk about AVS circulating in cities and trying to be the yellow cab of the future. There are very few studies that have shown that the expansion of EVs is actually going to reduce the amount of carbon being used, being consumed in in as fuel, except in those places where the electric grid is dominated by renewable sources.

So the largest market or the highest market penetration for EVs right now is in Norway. Norway is almost completely equipped with hydropower. Got a lot of fjords there, a lot of waterfalls. So hydropower, which is renewable, if you neglect the energy investment in building dams and all that, infrastructure is pretty clean.

Norway has not demonstrated any reduction in fossil fuel consumption or any other kind of energy consumption, even though it has a very high penetration of EVs. There is no study that I’m aware of that says, in the US energy consumption in any market has gone down because of the conversion to date of vehicles to electric vehicles.

You gotta remember the fundamentals of this, which is that an electric generating plant, unless it has co-generation, has about the same thermodynamic efficiency as the engine in your car running at optimum speed. Now, the engine, the car doesn’t always run at optimum speed, and that’s a problem. That’s where the hybrid vehicles come in because they allow you to only run the engine at its optimum speed, then use the battery as a buffer.

So that it becomes much more efficient. And that’s really the cause of the mileage improvements due to hybrid car use. If you look at them, you’ll see that the highway mileage for those hybrid cars is not too different than the highway mileage for a conventional car, but the city mileage is much, much better simply because the engine’s not running, except when you really needed to run to recharge the batteries.

People fall off the cliff with this and just say I’m getting an av, I’m gonna save the world, and I’m equipping my flea with EVs. I’m gonna save the world. I appreciate the intent and certainly intentions are important, but it may not be the case. And I think it’s incumbent on the EV manufacturers to really establish this or really establish their value as used by human beings in real life.

It would’ve been good to do this before we made a national commitment to EVs, but it’s never too late to do the right thing. Michael pointed out that another possible implication of this is that the automated vehicles, most of which are EVs or something like EVs will occasionally stop in the middle of traffic and cause traffic jams that burn up a lot of extra fuel.

And all of the people whose transportation is being inhibited by these EVs stuck in the highways, stuck in the roads. That’s a secondary effect, but certainly something worth considering as part of the overall transportation structure. So that’s that’s the story with the AV consumer Bill of Rights.

We’ve gone through all 13 now. We’ve gotten feedback from people. Thank you very much for that. We’ve gotten a lot of great inputs from people. They’ve helped us improve it. We really appreciate the opportunity to put these forward and hopefully they’ll become part of the requirements that government and industry realize need to be included in the AV rules and regulations To date.

They’re not being included in the standards being developed by the SAE or the standards being developed by the International Standards Organization. We think they should be. And we’re pushing for that.

Anthony: I think these have all been great, but, thirteen’s the most depressing on the bunch, why couldn’t the last one wait, couldn’t end on a high note like, the big red escape button or something like that.

I’m taking the optimist or the view that you might say is the naive view and hoping that this pushes more towards a better. Better electrical infrastructure and everything runs off of dolphin farts and sunshine. Yeah. I’m sorry. I’m distracted right now. Michael has taken over our screens just to, to shame us with some weird hats of who’s talking the most turns out.


Michael: you seeing that? Yeah.

Anthony: I have no idea. Yeah. I don’t know how to get it off my screen and go back to actually seeing you guys, which I’d rather see.

Michael: Yeah, I clipped a button and it really messed things up here.

Anthony: Way to go. Way to go.

Fred: Is this time for to rant? Good time for my rant. Oh, why not?

We’re in it down. So here’s the rant. Okay. We’ve seen this whole autonomous vehicle structure before in, in gentle listeners. Many of you are not of my advanced age, but if you were. You would’ve recalled from the 1950s, a lot of advertisements by General Electric and Washington House talking about how atomic energy to produce electric power is going to be too cheap to meter.

This is going to be the best thing ever. Now you may have noted that certain uninformed people have said that with avs we’re going to reduce traffic fatalities by 96%. That’s gotta be a good thing, right? These two quotes really resonate with me because the power to cheap to meter is very similar to the idea that the AVS are going to completely eliminate automotive deaths.

They’re very attractive and unachievable objectives. And the reality though is that the utilities recognized that nuclear react were very much very hazardous. And they presented a hazard that was. Too great for any utility to absorb. So they had their friends in Congress pass was called the Price Anderson Act, which limits the liability of any utility for nuclear events to far below the actual economic cost of those.

So in fact, the taxpayers have to bear the burden of all of the risk that’s associated with nuclear reactors. But as far as the utilities were concerned, this is great. Now we got a green light to go ahead and build all these reactors cuz power’s gonna be too cheap to meter and everything’s gonna be wonderful.

And we all know where this nuclear industry has ended up though, right? Neither two cheap to meet, nor particularly safe. And it presents very inviting targets for enemies who might want to attack your country. If you’ve been following the news in Ukraine, what the. EV industry, the AV industry is trying to do is establish state laws and federal laws that similarly give them immunity from the risks that are associated with the proliferation of the autonomous vehicles.

Now, how is that gonna work out? If the model is the nuclear industry, I think we can assume that it won’t work out well, and that the public will have to assume all of the risks and costs associated with develop further development of the autonomous vehicles. This whole EV infrastructure, upgraded power lines improved stations for charging standards that will allow one charger to be used by another standardization of the roads and highways and infrastructure and V2 X technology.

Someone’s gonna pay for that. And it’s gonna be you and me if the AAV companies are successful working with their friends in Congress to indemnify themselves from both the risks associated with these vehicle operations and the costs associated with the proliferation of these technologies. End of ran it.

Anthony: Welcome to hear your comment. Stay tuned for Fred and i’s separate podcast on the wonders of nuclear power, where I will talk about the religious order needed to protect the waste anyway. That’s not related to auto safety, but boy, I love a nice glowing stick of cadmium ca. Is that right?

Cadmium? No. Is that a plutonium? Plutonium too? Sure. Does cadmium glow?

Fred: Anyone’s cadmium? Kevin doesn’t glow. But Cobalt 60 is actually a commonly used radioactive source that’s easily generated in nuclear reactors and distributed it out to people who might need to have a. Intense game. Race source.

Anthony: Ooh.

Just like Bruce Banner. No. Okay, so let’s go. We’ve got a couple minutes left as if there’s actually a time limit. We’ve got a couple minutes left for your Saturday on our own in time for recall Roundup strap in time

Michael: for the recall roundup.

Anthony: We’ve already covered the General Motors a r c recall.

We don’t need to go into that one, so we’re gonna go into one that affects most listeners of this show. Ready? Don’t drive Your Ferrari. This is a great recall cuz any recall that contains a sentence like this, Ferrari has no reports of any fires, fuel leaks, or other incidences or deaths as a consequence of this issue.

Then, something really fun has happened. Ferrari of North America is potentially 425 vehicles being recalled for a possible fuel leakage. We talk about Ferrari on this show a lot more than I would suspect. And when we had the Ferrari in the limp home mode the Ferrari, that wouldn’t stop after they were parked.

And not even mention the poor performance of their current F1 team.

Michael: They keep popping up cuz they keep screwing up, but in this case, they’ve got a fuel line basically that makes contact with a protective cover for a high voltage battery. That doesn’t sound safe from the beginning, but I don’t think that’s really the problem.

It’s that there’s some corrosion taking place because of contact between the two on the fuel line. Fuel line can get a hole in it and. It can catch fire anytime the vehicle’s in operation, which while they’re saying do not drive these vehicles, these are that’s an important distinction.

They’re saying, do not drive. You should not drive.

Anthony: I don’t drive my Ferrari. I got my Ferrari solely to get the Ferrari jacket, the Ferrari hat, the Ferrari

Michael: watch. So Anthony, don’t drive your Ferrari. That’s a short and sweet of that. But, it’s only a few hundred vehicles,

Anthony: which is, how many Ferrari do they sell in the US alone?

I buy at least six a

Michael: year. Yeah. Millions. They’re all, all up and down my

Anthony: street. Actually sadly they are. I regularly see them in my neighborhood with a certain celebrity driving them. Yeah. Tracy Morgan, I see you in, yeah, I was

Michael: gonna guess Tracy Morgan. Tracy Morgan is Tracy Morgan plays a role in auto safety more than just that though, because he is, He was hit by a truck that if it had been equipped with automatic emergency braking at the time, probably would’ve spared him and his team a lot of injuries and problems.

Anthony: Tracy, do you wanna come on the show or just gimme a ride in your Ferrari? I literally see you once a week. I

Michael: love Tracy Warman. He’s

Anthony: hilarious. I don’t know. I get that kinda money. What are you doing in my neighborhood? I don’t get it.

Michael: That’s related to the other recall too, because we’ve got these Jeep Cherokees that have been put a do not park indoors warning.

Basically it’s a park outside warning. I keep screwing that up. I’m saying do not park indoors, park outside because it’s a. Recall that is a recall of a recall. So Chrysler looked at this issue around 2016, 2015, I believe, and issued a recall for these same vehicles because there was water coming into the electric module, the power module that controls your power lift gate in the rear.

And what they did at the time was affix using what they call a astic shield, which sounds like a shield, but what I think it really is just an adhesive that was like duct down, squeezed into the holes to prevent the water from leaking into the module that did not work. It’s we’re about, six, seven years later and.

These vehicles, there have been about, I think 50 to a hundred fires. It wasn’t completely clear from the submission in these vehicles, which is significant number. And basically the recall didn’t work. The problem is Chrysler, even though they’ve been looking at this closely since early last year, about 18 months, they still haven’t developed a fix.

So owners are simply going to have to park their cars outdoors until Chrysler and Jeep can come up with one lanis, whoever they are now. That’s, that’s a problem. We saw a lot of issues with the, I think the Chevy bolt owners who were recalls were delayed. And, parking garages start telling you, you can’t park here.

You may not have an outdoor spot to park at your house. There’s a lot of issues there and a lot of consumer inconvenience that takes place because of this. And, frankly, Jeeps should have gotten it right seven years ago. This isn’t, an, even though they seem, they claim to have spent the last 18 months studying how this occurs.

I don’t think that water getting into a. Control module. It really takes that much effort. I think they’re trying to pretend that they’ve been working really hard on this issue.

Anthony: Exactly. Spent the last 18 months studying why people are buying these cars.

Michael: That’s not a better way to do it, but yeah, that’s a, that’s I, I’m glad there’s a recall.

I just hope that there is, a fix available soon for all the owners.

Anthony: Yeah. So what happens, I recall this, and this is a model year 2014 to 2016 Jeep Cherokees over 130,000 of these. So let’s pretend I got one of these. It’s recalled. Do I just go to my dealer and be like, Hey, put different goo in there.

Michael: Or is it No, you wait. You wait and wait until they, they tell you what the remedy is. I don’t know if the Astic Shield remedy is going to be deployed again in a different spot where they found water going through they weren’t. They didn’t provide any details on what the fix might be, and I think that’s because they haven’t developed one yet.

And they were pretty clear that they’re, it is in development. And what that means can mean a lot of things. We’ve seen Jeep Remedies in development for about two years before, when, at least when it came to the Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tank fires, it took them quite a long time to develop a remedy that didn’t even work, which was a bracket under the fuel tank.

So we’re always on the lookout for Jeep Remedies because they’re typically attempts to fix the problem at the cheapest price point available.

Anthony: Masic Shield one of the lesser known marble superheroes. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to another episode of their Autobi Law.

Huh? What do we think? Their automobile law maybe? I don’t know. If you’ve got a better name, please send it in. It’ll be great. But for now, it was just another episode of the Center Photo Safety Podcast, brought to you by the Lube. Or by, brought you by Masic Shield. Astic mean shielding. This will be a new exhibit in the American Museum of Tort Law.

Thanks listeners. Bye. Thanks

Michael: everybody. Thank you.


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