The automotive safety bill progressing through Congress in the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.'s historic recalls could lead to major cost implications for certain suppliers if federal regulators seek to beef up automotive “black boxes.”
Safety system and electronics suppliers say that if the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration requires all vehicles to be equipped with black boxes similar to those in airplanes -- modules that can survive a severe crash, are waterproof and fireproof -- the cost of the units could triple or more, bringing them to around $4,000 or $5,000.
The automotive safety legislation contains a requirement that all new vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with event data recorders, or small computers that collect data about vehicle speed, deceleration and other factors that measure what a car is doing leading up to a crash. The regulation would take effect beginning in the 2015 model year.
The specifications that NHTSA will mandate for the so-called black boxes are unclear at this point.
Automakers will have to pay for the increased costs of the systems, which will likely be passed on to consumers.