NHTSA asks for recall of 67 million airbag parts, Aston teases DB12, and the fade of AM radio
NHTSA wants to recall 67 million airbag inflators
Intake: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has requested the recall of 67 million airbag inflators because it believes there is a safety defect, but supplier ARC Automotive rejected the U.S. regulator’s request, documents released on Friday show, says Automotive News.
ARC airbag inflators are in General Motors, Stellantis, BMW, Hyundai, and Kia vehicles. On its own, GM on Friday agreed to recall nearly a million vehicles with ARC inflators after a rupture in March resulted in facial injuries to a driver. “The GM recall covers 994,763 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia vehicles from the 2014 through 2017 model years with modules produced by ARC Automotive Inc. Dealers will replace the driver’s air-bag module,” Automotive News says. This is separate from the massive Takata airbag recall.
Exhaust: GM said it learned of a report that the front driver’s airbag inflator in a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse ruptured during deployment in a crash. Tennessee-based ARC rejected NHTSA’s conclusion that a defect exists, saying the claim is based upon just seven field ruptures in the United States. NHTSA, the company said, “then asks ARC to prove a negative—that the 67 million inflators in this population are not defective.”
Those 67 million inflators were produced over 18 years. The company said it will continue to work with NHTSA and automakers to evaluate ruptures. — Steven Cole Smith
Aston Martin teases DB11 successor
Intake: Aston Martin is set to unveil the follow-up to its DB11 grand tourer on May 24. The British sports car maker is making some bold claims in advance of the reveal.
“This is no mere GT,” says the press release that accompanies. “Grand is not enough.” Judging from the silhouette shown in the teaser images released, the car, likely to be called the DB12, is an evolution of its forebear and not a ground-up new model. A report in Autocar suggests that it will come with more powerful versions of the V-8 and V-12 engines currently installed in the DB11, including the 770-hp 12-cylinder that features in the DBS 770 Ultimate.
A huge improvement should come in the shape of an updated infotainment system, replacing Aston’s current Mercedes-Benz system, which is past-its-sell-by-date. Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll told Autocar that new system it will be distinctly different from Mercedes’s technology by using “our own faces, our own voice—a proper English accent.”
Exhaust: Aston Martin is riding high on a flying start to the 2023 Formula 1 season, and Stroll says that its F1-tribute DBX and Vantage models have attracted between 300 and 400 customers. He’ll be hoping the DB12 will accelerate sales further. — Nik Berg
86-strong classic collection goes to auction with no reserve
Intake: A single owner’s collection of classic Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes is set to go under the hammer, and there are so many cars up for grabs that RM Sotheby’s had to split the auction into two.
The group of cars has been dubbed the Carrera Collection, after the 44 Porsches included in the sale. The auctions will take place on July 7th and 12th, in Switzerland and Italy respectively. Two 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Tourings are likely to fetch the highest prices. Other highlights include four BMW Z8s, an Alfa Romeo 8C Spider, and a trio of Mercedes-Benz 280 SE cabriolets.
Exhaust: None of the cars listed feature a reserve price, so they’re guaranteed to sell. But with so much choice here, could supply outpace demand, or will we see record prices? We’ll report back after this extraordinary sale. — NB
Flying car passes wind-tunnel testing
Intake: A flying car is one step closer to airborne reality, electric Brazilian planemaker Eve announced today. Eve, which is controlled by aircraft manufacturer Embraer, said it has successfully completed wind-tunnel testing of its fully electric flying vehicle. The company aims to start commercial operation of that vehicle in 2026, says Reuters.
The concept, called an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, or eVTOL, has been dubbed a flying taxi. “The information we obtained during this phase of development has helped us further refine the technical solutions of our eVTOL, before committing to production tooling and conforming prototypes,” said Luiz Valentini, Eve’s top technology officer.
Exhaust: Production has not yet begun, but Eve says it has a backlog of nearly 2800 orders, with development backed by investors such as United Airlines and Rolls-Royce. The wind-tunnel tests were completed in Switzerland using an eVTOL scale model. — SCS
AM radio continues to take it on the chin
Intake: Multiple manufacturers are removing AM radios from their cars, over protests from AM stations around the country. Automakers such as BMW, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo “are removing AM radios from new electric vehicles because electric [motors] can interfere with the sound of AM stations. And Ford is taking a bigger step, eliminating AM from all of its vehicles, electric or gas-operated,” says the Washington Post.
Exhaust: Some station owners and advertisers contend that losing access to the car dashboard will be a death blow to many of the nation’s more than 4000 AM stations — the possible demise of a core element of the country’s delivery system for news, political talk, coverage of weather emergencies, and foreign language programming.
“This is a tone-deaf display of complete ignorance about what AM radio means to Americans,” Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a trade journal covering the talk radio industry, told the Post. “It’s not the end of the world for radio, but it is the loss of an iconic piece of American culture.” — SCS
Sierra Club: Some car dealers decline to sell EVs
Intake: The Sierra Club has complied a 15-page report titled A Nationwide Study of the Electric Vehicle Shopping Experience. Sierra club volunteers cold-called 800 car dealers and asked if they had EVs available for sale. Some “key findings” include the fact that 66 percent of auto dealers did not have a single EV available for sale.
Within that 66 percent, 44 percent reported they would offer an EV for sale if they could get one. Also within that group, 45 percent of those dealers reported they would not offer an EV for sale regardless of automaker allocation and supply chain constraints.
Exhaust: Mercedes had the best availability, with 90 percent of dealers having at least one EV in stock. Toyota and Honda had the worst EV availability. Only 11 percent of Honda dealers and 15 percent of Toyota dealers had an EV for sale. The survey did not differentiate between plug-in hybrids and electrics. — SCS