Sudden braking in 2 VW SUV models draws regulatory scrutiny
The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
“We all want to have technology,” said Michael Brooks, chief counsel for the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety. “But if it doesn’t work and it actually causes other safety issues like phantom braking, then it suggests they need a bit of a performance standard for all of these AEB systems.”
By Tom Krisher
March 15, 2022
First came the beeping alarms and the dashboard lights warning that something had gone haywire. Then the driver’s side windows suddenly and mysteriously rolled down. Kendall Heiman’s Volkswagen SUV then pulled the scariest stunt of all: It abruptly braked for no reason.
Heiman, a clinical social worker in Lawrence, Kansas, was driving her 15-year-old son to a class on Jan. 5 when her 2021 Atlas Cross Sport went bonkers. The malfunctions turned a normally routine two-mile round trip into a white-knuckle ordeal.
“It literally feels like the car is possessed,” Heiman said. “I’m not feeling like I’m driving my car. My car is driving me.”
Heiman’s experience, it turns out, wasn’t unique. Since late 2020, 47 VW owners have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the same glitches in their 2020 and 2021 VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs. Some drivers reported that they narrowly escaped collisions, though a review of the complaints found no reports of crashes.