• Feb 24, 2010
"NHTSA officials told investigators that the agency doesn't employ any electrical engineers or software engineers."

So says The Washington Post, in a revelation that's at least shocking if nothing else. Consider your car for a moment. How many electrical connections and silicon bits are there making the whole kit-n'-kaboodle operate? Plenty, right? In fact, The Car Connection estimates that the average "modern luxury car has something close to 100 million lines of software code in it, running on 70 to 100 microprocessors." Though the quote about the government safety agency came out in the government hearings on Toyota safety, that figures to be worrisome news to all motorists, as modern vehicles from all manufacturers are more or less rolling computers, and their very movement is governed by computers that NHTSA apparently cannot begin to analyze – at least internally.

Hopefully, the report regarding the lack of electrical and software engineers at NHTSA was either misunderstood or incorrect. We have a feeling that's likely the case – in fact, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in his testimony on Capitol Hill today that the agency does at least have access to such engineers.

UPDATE: During today's remarks, LaHood said there was some confusion in his comments yesterday about a lack of electrical engineers. He has yet to divulge how many engineers NHTSA employs and there's still some question about software engineers. Updates to follow as we learn more.



Tired of Toyota recall news? Try out the recall-free version of Autoblog.

[Sources: The Washington Post, The Car Connection | Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      @neptronix

      Consumer Reports is a watchdog and they aren't a government entity. ;)

      Also, the private media is a driving force behind consumer safety. (Just look at how they're handling this situation). Clearly the government didn't jump start this crackdown, apparently they knew about this problem for years.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sweet jebus, my car has 70 to 100 microprocessors? I thought they were called sensors. Are they all crammed in the ECU box? Under the driver seat? Get these things outta my car!!!

      Warning:

      Your car is full of out of control computers. Each of them could fail at any given moment and KILL YOU!!! Muhuahahah...

      Happy driving.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lol.... anyone else need a reason why the far right doesn't trust big government?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Soon we'll be recalling the NHTSA also
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, let's all hate on the "big gov't boogey man" by pointing to an underfunded agency that doesn't have the resources it needs.

        Please. Let's get over our politics and get on with it. Cars are getting more sophisticated and our government (like it or not) will need more, not less, resources to ensure Toyota fiascos don't happen again.

        Remember, a government like ours is generally accountable to the people. A company is only accountable to shareholders. Whose interests do you think will they'll prioritize?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your words, not mine ;)

        In reality, such an agency is really important. But somebody needs to be watching over them to make sure they actually do their job.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, which is why we should cut funding even more! The private sector will take care of itself! HOORAY Capitalism!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Step 1: Sight questionable, industry funded studies as justification to defund government programs, until said programs can nolonger function.

        Step 2: Point out that the government program nolonger functions, don't mention that it's a funding problem you fought to create.

        Step 3: Incrementally slash funding until the program is basicly one guy, in a janitors closet, who occasionally gets an email from the industry he's supposed to oversee... if he asks nicely.

        Step 4: Retire from politics, and get a nice cushy lobbying job with the company you were secretly batting for the whole time.

        Step 5: Profit!!!


        Note: If at any time you find yourself being called out for your bs, claim it's all a "Socialist Conspiracy" just for the lulz.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, with nobody to regulate, typically the only people cracking down on a company like Toyota would be the media. It took a major crackdown from the government to get the ball rolling on the Ford issues and now this... remember?

        The 'free market' jazz works great if consumers are EXTREMELY INFORMED at all times, which they are not, by any means! Not everyone spends hours every day researching everything they buy. You cannot expect that from society, especially when companies will, time and time again, sell unethical/harmful products in the name of making a profit.

        So, we need these nannies. But they have to be able to do their job correctly...
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Report: NHTSA doesn't have any software or electrical engineers on staff to investigate Toyota"

      that made me laugh then made me kinda sad
      • 4 Years Ago
      No wonder why these stooges were so gun ho about shaving gas pedals. Thats right folks your tax dollars at work. Of course they would follow up with an update stating that what he said was misconstrued if they don't have any programmers and electrical engineers they figure they can just contract them for exorbitant fees from the companies in question.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You can't have it both ways, pal. Either they hire an expensive department of full time software engineers or they contract it a la carte, as needed for cases like this. Do you have ANY idea how much those guys cost?

        People like you bitch and moan about "big government" then whine about needing to spend on contract services when we don't have the resource available in a crisis. Tax dollars are finite. Kvetching about this is not reasonable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      ROFL. *dusts off the resume*
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ford Sync might actually have that many lines of code, but the cars ECU. That would be scary. Then again, it has a lot of microprocessors to manage. To think, cars are 70-100 times more powerful then my netbook. Ahh, the modern age we live in.
        • 4 Years Ago
        but sync has nothing to do with engine management or other vehicle control systems.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a joke.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe Toyota needs the extra code and computer power, oh no. Toyota IS Skynet.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hot damn you guys are special. Do you know how many microprocessors are in your computer? MANY! It's not just the CENTRAL Processing Unite (the CPU which you dolts keep thinking microprocessor means). Microprocessors deal with information and input and then assist the CPU (the ECU for the car), in making all of it's commands.

      As an experiment, open up your computer case, and look at the motherboard, see all those little squares which lots of lines going towards, TA DA!

      Also, if they need some more engineers, I'm looking to change jobs, I could stand to be overpaid and not do much.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They don't have any software or electrical engineers, but I'll bet the NHTSA has plenty of insurance industry hacks onboard to legislate more insurance profits into NHTSA regulations! Best government money can buy...
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Capable of Understanding" does not equal "Expert in the field." I'm fully capable of understanding most mechanical systems, but there is no way I'm allowed to call myself a Mechanical Engineer.
    • Load More Comments