Automakers, U.S. Agency Work on Industry Cyber Safety Measures

By Jeff Plungis | December 3, 2015

Executives from 15 auto companies met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Tuesday to discuss specific industrywide actions that can improve safety and prevent cars from being hacked.

The meeting was convened after record numbers of cars have been recalled in the last several years, Namrata Kolachalam, the Transportation Department’s press secretary, said in an e-mailed statement.

Foxx requested that the executives “come to Washington to discuss how they and the department can work together,” Kolachalam said. “Participants were asked to come prepared with suggestions to share, and spend the next month working toward concrete commitments to industrywide safety measures.”

Foxx had said he was summoning automakers to Washington to discuss the need for accurate reporting of safety defects, following instances where automakers were fined for being late on reporting potential fatal mechanical flaws to regulators.

Last month, Japanese airbag supplier Takata Corp. agreed to a record civil penalty of as much as $200 million after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation into explosions linked to the company’s product that have killed eight people worldwide and caused dozens of serious injuries. The agency said the company engaged in a pattern of misleading regulators and providing selective, incomplete or inaccurate information to automakers and consumers.

In July, Fiat Chrysler agreed to pay a record $105 million penalty and take steps to change its actions following a government investigation of the company’s handling of 23 recalls involving more than 11 million cars and trucks.

At the meeting, Foxx asked how the government and industry can work together to improve cybersecurity, according to Kolachalam. Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler issued two recalls to fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities, after hackers were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee using a laptop from a remote location.

Companies represented at the meeting were Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, Kia Motors Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Mitsubishi Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Subaru of America Inc., Tesla Motors Inc., and Toyota Motor Corp., according to the department statement.

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