Daily News Briefs: May 18, 2012

Event data recorders
, aka "black boxes," are already prevalent in new cars, but a new law would make them standard on all vehicles, according to Car and Driver. The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that would mandate event data recorders for all new cars by the 2015 model year. The law also states that the car's owner will control the black box info, though the owner could be forced to share it in cases of a court order, says the magazine. The House of Representatives is expected to pass its version of the EDR mandate law, though both versions would have to be reconciled before becoming law. The Department of Transportation has already developed a standard data set for black boxes, which goes into effect for the 2013 model year. It stipulates that event data records must record five seconds worth of pre-crash data, including forward crash speed, the speed the vehicle was traveling, whether brakes were applied and time of airbag deployment. Black boxes are useful for investigating accidents and helping to establish culpability — whether that be the manufacturer — such as Toyota in its sudden acceleration scandal — or the driver themselves.

In other news:

  • Toyota will expand its V-6 engine production in America, allowing the automaker to build an additional 216,000 V-6 motors a year. The $80 million investment will add 125 jobs to Toyota's Huntsville, Ala., plant, said the carmaker. The increased production will begin in March 2014.
  • GM's troubled European Opel brand has decided to move the bulk of production of its next-generation Opel Astra to its plant in England, ending production at its German plant in 2015, according to Bloomberg. The English factory won the contract because its union backed a new deal allowing the factory to work on a three-shift, 24-hour schedule, among other concessions. The deal leaves the Astra (on which the Buick Verano is based) with just two plants (instead of three) in Europe when the new model goes into production in 2015.
  • When Volvo axes its aging XC90 crossover for a new model in 2014, the current-generation model will be handed over to Chinese parent company Geely, according to China Car Times. Geely will use the old XC90 platform, which first debuted in 1999, to develop a new high-end brand for China.

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