Ford Recalls 695 000 Vehicles for Airbag and Transmission Software Updates

Nearly 6 million vehicles called in for software-related fixes this year

2 min read
Ford Recalls 695 000 Vehicles for Airbag and Transmission Software Updates
Photo: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company announced two recalls in the past week that will require the owners of some 695 000 Ford vehicles to visit their local dealerships to receive software updates to their SUVs and trucks. On Friday, Ford announced that it would be recalling 692 500 Ford Escape small SUVs and C-Max gas-electric hybrids from the 2013-2014 model year to fix a problem in what the company calls the vehicles’ “safety canopy” (“an air bag that deploys from the ceiling near the windows to protect an occupant’s head in a side impact crash or rollover”), according to a New York Times article. The article notes that, according to Ford, a computer software issue could result in delayed deployment of the safety canopy in certain rollover events.

The Associated Pressstates that the Escapes in the recall were built from 5 October 2011 through 14 February 2014, while the C-Max vehicles (which make up about 10 percent of the recall) were built from 19 January 2012, through 24 February 2014. Ford stated that no injuries or deaths have been reported related to the issue.

In addition, Reuters Newsreported last Monday that Ford is also recalling 3976 of its F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 Super Duty trucks from model year 2015 that are equipped with 6.2-liter gasoline or 6.7-liter diesel engines and 6R140 torque shift transmissions (pdf). According to Reuters, a “transmission control software error could cause the vehicle to engage ‘reverse’ for a little over 1 second when the driver believes he or she is shifting from ‘park’ to ‘drive.’”

No injuries or deaths have been reported related to this software issue either, Ford reported. Updates for both the Escape and Ford truck software problems should be available at authorized dealers sometime next month, Ford indicated.

By my informal count, some 5.87 million vehicles have been recalled world-wide since the beginning of the year to correct either software or mechanical (including insect-related) problems that a software fix is being used to mitigate. About 2.8 million of the vehicles in that group have been called in to correct improper airbag deployment.

A big question being raised is that, with so many recalls of all types now taking place (there were 581 recalls involving 22 million  vehicles in the U.S. alone last year), how many used and rental vehicles, let alone original owner vehicles, are being driven without ever having their software bugs fixed?

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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