DETROIT -- NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said today the emissions crisis at Volkswagen -- along with major recent recalls at General Motors, Takata and elsewhere -- weakens confidence in the auto industry.
Rosekind, speaking at an industry event in suburban Detroit, said deceits by Volkswagen, currently in the midst of a major emissions scandal, hurt "public confidence" in the auto industry's ability to handle health and safety.
“They tell you one thing, you question it.,” Rosekind said to reporters following the address. “You just have to question every assumption when information is provided.”
Rosekind called the actions of Volkswagen, GM, Takata and others "reactionary" and said more must be done to change industry safety culture.
“Accountability in leadership is literally at the top of the list, and we’ve just got to be out front, acting, talking and doing everything we can to demonstrate that it should be in their genes,” he said.
In his speech, Rosekind outlined several ways NHTSA is working with automakers, suppliers and others in the industry to create a “proactive safety culture” in the auto industry.
Rosekind said that would be a “transformation built on the recognition that just as the most survivable crash is a crash that never happens, the best executed recall is the one that never takes place because the defect never made it off the factory floor.”
Automated cars, cybersecurity
Rosekind also addressed questions in the audience concerning automated vehicles, cybersecurity and other issues.
Rosekind said July’s hacking of a Jeep Cherokee SUV illustrated to the industry that hacking is no longer hypothetical but is instead a real safety concern. In response to cyber-safety concerns, he said NHTSA will unveil specific actions to combat and prevent hacking in the fall, though no details were shared.
“This will be a never-ending battle as we move to connected vehicles,” Rosekind said.
Rosekind said the “enormous opportunities” that connected vehicle technology provides could be squandered if NHTSA and the auto industry don’t work to prevent hacks and other cybersecurity concerns.
“Autos are the biggest target for everyone to go after,” Rosekind said. “So, basically, they’re on a pedestal now. They’re the Holy Grail. They’re in a garage. They’re accessible.”
Rosekind said NHTSA aims to help the industry in advancing technological innovation and safety to prevent recalls, in addition to issuing them.
He added: “NHTSA is interested in doing more than just policing the auto industry.”