#childsafety | Senators Slam NHTSA for Moving Too Slow to Update Safety Rules

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Senators want the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get a move on with enacting safety rules set forth in last year’s infrastructure bill, Renault and Nissan want you to know they’re working on themselves, and Genesis’ electric sedan is now available in more states than ever before. This is The Morning Shift for Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

1st Gear: Congress Tells NHTSA to Stop Dragging its Feet

In a matter of speaking, anyway. A group of 10 Democratic senators actually used more car-themed language in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wanting answers as to why the department isn’t working more quickly to achieve the safety goals mandated by Congress as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed precisely one year ago today. The correspondence is overflowing with the kind of forced automotive metaphors politicians adore, as this excerpt courtesy of Reuters illustrates:

“When issuing new safety measures, regulators have too often crawled through yellow lights or stalled at red lights,” the letter said. “Congress gave NHTSA the green light to put its pedal to the metal to reduce motor vehicle fatalities.”

Technically you’re supposed to prepare to stop at yellow lights and stop at red lights — and rarely put the “pedal to the metal” on a public road. As far as I can tell, the senators are chastising NHTSA for following the law here. They’ve also apparently never met their colleagues at NHTSA, for whom “crawling” and “stalling” on rulemaking is, unfortunately, not exactly new behavior. More from Reuters:

The 2021 law also directs NHTSA to set rules requiring new vehicles include technology to prevent alcohol impaired drivers from starting vehicles and mandate systems in to alert drivers to check rear seats after turning off vehicles.

The Transportation Department said in April NHTSA “is committed to ensuring its underlying processes improve the timely completion of congressional mandates.”

NHTSA’s slow pace of writing new auto safety regulations has come under fire before and it is often been years behind deadlines set by Congress to write new safety rules.

An April report by the Government Accountability Office said NHTSA had failed to complete 16 of 22 rules mandated by Congress in legislation passed in 2012 and 2015.

The senators letter noted the November 2021 infrastructure law directed NHTSA to submit a report within six months on the status of prior rules sought by Congress and expected completion dates. “Unfortunately, NHTSA has already missed that deadline by six months,” the letter said.

Stephen Cliff, the NHTSA administrator President Joe Biden nominated in May, stepped down in September. A new candidate has not been chosen yet.

NHTSA has quite a lot of work ahead of it, if it chooses to do it: from modernizing crash test dummies to cleaning up the dangerous marketing plaguing the booster seat industry to ensuring our new car regulations are more in line with those of other countries. Much of this was prompted by 2021 ending as a particularly awful year for roadway deaths — and 2022 has not been on track to move the needle back in the right direction.

2nd Gear: Automatic Emergency Braking Works

In related, better news, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently shared encouraging data on the efficacy of automatic emergency braking systems, for trucks in particular. The only issue is that not many new pickups typically have them equipped. Courtesy Automotive News:

The study used data gathered from police-reported crashes in 25 states from 2017 to 2020 and looked at the rate at which pickups rear-ended other vehicles per year.

The rear-end crash rate was 43 percent lower for pickups equipped with the technology than for those without it, the findings showed. Rear-end injury crash rates were 42 percent lower.

“These numbers confirm that [automatic emergency braking] is reducing crashes for pickups, just as it is cars, SUVs and large trucks,” said study author Jessica Cicchino, vice president at the insurer-funded institute. “The faster automakers can make sure that every pickup they sell has this important safety feature, the better.”

Automatic emergency braking aimed at preventing crashes with other vehicles was standard on just 5 percent of registered pickups in the U.S. in 2021, the institute said, compared with 10 percent of cars and 18 percent of SUVs. The safety feature was optional on 10 percent of pickups, 15 percent of cars and 22 percent of SUVs.

“Pickups account for 1 out of 5 passenger vehicles on U.S. roads, and their large size can make them dangerous to people in smaller vehicles or on foot,” Cicchino said. “Nevertheless, manufacturers have been slow to equip them with [automatic emergency braking] and other crash-avoidance systems.”

Some have and will continue to bemoan the trend toward and government mandate of assistive safety technology driving up the average cost of vehicles, but the safety gains are worth it — especially for light-duty trucks that keep getting bigger and heavier and more dangerous to anyone who isn’t in one themselves.

3rd Gear: Things Are ‘Warm’ Between Renault and Nissan

Negotiations continue to go about as well as you’d expect for the auto industry’s least enthusiastic marriage. Personnel from Nissan and Renault are due to meet today and tomorrow to discuss the future of their alliance — an alliance that, believe it or not, Renault SA chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has described as never having been so “warm.” From Reuters:

The companies had initially set Tuesday as a deadline to hammer out a deal. However, the discussions have taken longer than originally expected due to Nissan’s concerns about how its intellectual property rights can be protected as Renault forges new ties with China’s Geely, sources have told Reuters.

Renault last week unveiled a sweeping overhaul of its businesses, saying it would set up a joint venture with Geely for gasoline engines and hybrid technology and spin off its electric vehicles unit next year. It wants Nissan to invest in the new electric unit.

The companies are also renegotiating their equity ties, which currently see Renault owning a controlling 43% of Nissan and the Japanese company holding only a 15% non-voting stake in Renault.

The imbalance in equity has long been a sticking point for Nissan, which makes sense. Senard told the media “nothing is blocking” the two parties from hashing all this out. I just wonder if Mitsubishi gets a seat at the table — the forgotten child stuck in between two unwilling, bickering parents. Somebody rescue Mitsubishi!

4th Gear: Genesis Expands Electrified G80 Availability

The Electrified G80 — a sedan that sounds like a plug-in hybrid even though it’s actually a battery-electric vehicle — had only been available for purchase in eight states up until now. Four more have been added to the list, as of this week. Those are Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Virginia, per Electrek.

If you’re not up to speed on the Electrified G80, our Lawrence Hodge covered the main points when the car was announced for the U.S. late last summer:

The Electrified G80 is equipped with an 87.2 kWh battery. That gets paired with two 136 kW motors front and rear. With all-wheel drive, that’s enough to rocket this luxury EV to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. The Elecitifed G80 also comes equipped with 350 kW DC fast charging capability. Genesis says the vehicle can use this to go from 10-80-percent charge in just 22 minutes.

At that time, EPA-certified numbers hadn’t been reported. Today, Genesis quotes an estimated 282-mile range for the sedan on a full charge. It starts at $80,920 including destination. All told, it’s on sale in the following states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

5th Gear: They Should Fix That Logo

The Gran Turismo movie is officially happening now, as weird as that is to type out. It’ll star David Harbour and Orlando Bloom, and will be loosely based around the true stories of Lucas Ordóñez and Jann Mardenborough, among the first winners of the Nissan GT Academy challenge where the world’s top Gran Turismo players competed with each other in real cars for a spot in the automaker’s driver development program. District 9’s Neill Blomkamp will direct.

Sony Pictures tweeted a photo on November 12, confirming that filming had begun:

If you’re familiar with Gran Turismo, you know what’s wrong with that picture. The creator of the game series and also one of the producers on the film, Kazunori Yamauchi, certainly did, tweeting the following on Sunday:

Filming for the Gran Turismo movie is progressing smoothly. The logo is slightly wrong. It will be released in August of next year.

Reverse: Project Gotham Racing Launches

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Photo: Jeff Christensen/AFP (Getty Images)

And for that matter, the original Xbox, too. This was also the day when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson whooped Bill Gates’ ass in Dead Or Alive 3. It’s unclear who won their race through Manhattan in PGR.

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