Leveraging OTA to Solve Recalls and Save LivesLeveraging OTA to Solve Recalls and Save Lives
Recalls

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August 8, 2022

Leveraging OTA to Solve Recalls and Save Lives

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Welcome back to The Recall Notice, where we cover the latest in software-related recalls impacting the automotive industry. Last quarter we explored recalls for Daimler Vans, Harley-Davidson, and Toyota, all of which required an at-dealer remedy. We also took a look at how Tesla is streamlining its recall process by leveraging over-the-air technology similar to the solutions provided by Sibros. 

This month we will be covering three new recalls issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Now, without further ado, let’s dive into our first recall. 

Kia Airbag Recall

NHTSA Campaign Number: 22V096000

OEM: Kia Motors America

Components: Air Bags

Estimated Vehicles Affected: 128,280

Remedy: Free Software Update at Dealership

Estimated Cost to OEM: $38.5M - $62.6M

NHTSA Recall 22V096 was issued on February 18, 2022, in response to a fault in the front airbags of certain Kia Soul cars. This software issue led to a communication disconnect between the front impact sensors and the Airbag Control Unit (ACU) that prevented airbag deployment during a crash. When combined with a properly worn seat belt, airbags reduce mortality by 67%, thus a malfunctioning airbag leaves the driver more vulnerable to serious injury and death in a severe collision. 

This recall includes over 128,000 Kia Souls from the 2014 model year produced between July 21, 2013, and June 20, 2014. Since Kia has yet to implement a vehicle-wide OTA software update solution, owners are required to return to the dealership for a free manual update. Free for the owner that is. The OEM, on the other hand, is looking at a price tag between 38.5 and 62.6 million dollars. 

What’s more, this recall has the potential to impact Kia’s customer loyalty and brand image. Especially considering the other airbag recall issued this January, NHTSA 22V031, which includes over 410,619 Kia vehicles from model years 2017 through 2019. Since the units included in both of these recalls are from older model years, there is also a larger window during which the fault existed, which increases the chances of class action lawsuits for any damages incurred. 

Ford Power Train Recall

NHTSA Campaign Number: 22V188000

OEM: Ford Motor Company 

Components: Power Train 

Estimated Vehicles Affected: 47,084

Remedy: Free Software Update at Dealership

Estimated Cost to OEM: $14.1M - $23.5M

On February 4th, 2022 the Driveline Engineering team at Ford discovered an issue related to a loss of mobility in certain F150 vehicles. The cause was the false activation of a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) relating to transmission fluid pressure. The faulty code led the transmission to shift into neutral regardless of the vehicle’s speed. This sudden loss of power is extremely dangerous, particularly at higher speeds, such as on a freeway. To correct this error NHTSA Recall 22V188 was issued on March 25th, with an owner notification date set for April 12th. 

This recall includes 47,084 Ford F-150 vehicles from the model year 2021. Although Ford has been working on bringing bumper-to-bumper OTA update technology into its fleet since 2020, most models remain limited in their ability to receive large, functional-safety updates. As such, all F-150 owners will need to set aside time to visit a dealer for a manual power control module software update. The cost associated with a recall of this magnitude ranges between 14 and 24 million dollars. Dollars that could have been put to better use elsewhere, such as boosting brand image or innovating new customer features. 

Toyota Stability Control Recall

NHTSA Campaign Number: 22V239000

OEM: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing

Components: Electronic Stability Control 

Estimated Vehicles Affected: 458,110

Remedy: Free Software Update at Dealership

Estimated Cost to OEM: $137.4M - $229.1M

NHTSA Recall 22V239 was issued on the 13th of April 2022 as a result of a software fault in the stability control ECU of certain Lexus and Toyota models. If the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system has been manually disabled, the fault prevents the stability control ECU from re-activating VSC upon restart. This places the affected vehicles in direct violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 126, "Electronic Stability Control Systems." VSC helps drivers maintain control on curves and during emergency maneuvers. When these systems are malfunctioning or inoperative they place driver and bystander safety at risk. 

NHTSA 22V239 affects 458,110 units, including the Lexus LX 600, Lexus NX 350h, Lexus NX 450h+, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid from the 2022 model year; the Lexus LS 500h, Toyota Mirai, Toyota RAV4 PRIME, Toyota Sienna, and Toyota Venza from model years 2021 to 2022, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid from the 2020-2022 model years. Although Toyota recently introduced its own OTA operating system, known as Arene, the manufacturer still has a long way to go before the solution can support vehicle-wide updates. Until then owners will be expected to return to the dealership for any type of robust software update, including the one required to remedy this stability control fault. At a cost of between 300 and 500 USD per vehicle, Toyota is looking at a total recall expenditure of around 137 to 229 million dollars. 

Impact and Savings With Sibros

All the software faults covered in this quarter’s issue impact safety-critical systems and pose a severe risk to human life. Unfortunately, according to NHTSA, only around 65 to 70 percent of recalled vehicles end up getting addressed. The result is thousands upon thousands of malfunctioning and potentially hazardous vehicles on the roads. Fortunately, over-the-air update technology is changing the way automakers address software faults. Instead of waiting for customers to bring their car back to the dealership, manufacturers can send software fixes directly to the affected units with OTA solutions like Sibros’ Deep Updater

Another benefit of an embedded OTA and data management solution is proactive fault identification. It took eight years for the Kia airbag fault to come to light. Real-time data collected by Sibros’ Deep Logger, could have helped the OEM identify the communication disconnect and correct it, instead of risking death by waiting for the issue to present itself during a traffic collision. 

True, it’s not practical to go back and install connected vehicle technology on every automobile ever made, especially considering older models wouldn’t be equipped with the hardware to support it. However, these types of recalls only emphasize the importance of forward thinking and decisive action. OEMs must start expanding their OTA offerings beyond their vehicles’ navigation and infotainment systems. Vertically integrated, vehicle-wide solutions like Sibros’ Deep Connected Platform (DCP) are the key to continued success in the competitive connected vehicle landscape. OEMs who leverage DCP will not only save time, money, and brand reputation but also people’s lives. To learn more about how Sibros is powering the connected vehicle ecosystem or to schedule a demo, contact us today.  

Amber Parle
Amber is a Content Specialist at Sibros with over nine years of writing and blog content experience. She is a University of California at Davis graduate and an avid world traveler.