On the one hand, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a great defender of consumers’ rights and a check against a powerful auto industry. On the other, the NHTSA is a federal agency that must uphold strict guidelines, some of which have nothing to do with safety. In the case of a Ford (NYSE:F) recall over a defective door chime system, driver safety is not at stake, but nearly 24,000 cars are coming back for service.
The Detroit News reports Ford is conducting a voluntary recall of 23,800 electric vehicles that have door chimes that don’t sound when the door opens. The group of vehicles includes the C-Max hybrid and plug-in EV (model year 2013) as well as the Ford Focus Electric (2012-2013), both cars that idle with only the slightest engine noise since they operate on electric motors. Without a door chime alerting the driver the engine is running, it’s more likely for the driver to step away from the activated car by accident.
Electric vehicles differ from internal combustion engine cars on numerous levels, but the sound of the engine is the most telling distinction. Key fobs supply smart technology for these vehicles, making it impossible to start cars without a fob inside. Thus the need for a sonic alert arises. In contrast to the NHTSA, auto safety advocacy groups focus on the dangers of vehicles on U.S. roads.