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Auto blogFri, 08 Mar 2013 15:44:00 EST
Subaru has issued one of the strangest recalls we've come across in some time. As it turns out, certain Subaru models may randomly start their own engines. The issue is confined to select models equipped with an automatic or CVT and the company's optional Audiovox remote engine starter (RES) accessory. If the RES key fob is dropped, it could "randomly transmit an engine start request without pressing the button."
Vehicles affected include the 2010-2012 Legacy and Outback with an automatic or CVT, 2012-2013 Impreza with the CVT, and 2013 XV Crosstrek with CVT (shown), all equipped with the Audiovox RES accessory. Likewise, certain 2013 Legacy and Outbacks may have received replacement RES fobs that could be affected. All told, 47,419 vehicles are included in the recall.
Should one of these cars start on their own, Subaru says they will run up to 15 minutes, but the vehicle may also continue to start and stop until either the battery in the fob dies or the car runs out of fuel. Of course, if one of these cars is parked in an enclosed area, that means harmful gasses could build up, which could be dangerous if inhaled.
Subaru was one of few automakers whose sales actually picked up during the recent recession. But now that auto sales are back on track (and expected to hit pre-recession numbers this year), Subaru is trying to come up with new products to fill voids in its current lineup. Wards Auto had a chance to talk to Subaru's director-product manager Ken Lin, who indicated that the automaker is planning to introduce new models this year that will help it attract new buyers without alienating current ones.
The biggest void, of course, is a competitive three-row crossover, a role the Tribeca does not fill in one a very popular segment. Lin said that while there's no current plan to kill off the Tribeca, Subaru is looking at creating a larger three-row CUV with more interior space. In addition to to something big, Subaru is getting ready to bring its customers more luxury with new touring models, but does not anticipate going toe-to-toe with Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
By the end of this year, Subaru will be introducing a new hybrid model, although we don't yet know on which model it will be based. What we do seem to know is that the car will get its power from a nickel metal hydride battery rather than a more modern lithium-ion pack for the sake of simplicity. Finally, Lin mentioned a new product being brought into the sports car segment, but while the article takes this as a hint toward a possible BRZ Turbo, it could also be a reference to the next generation of the WRX and WRX STI.
Crash-testing new vehicles to evaluate their ability to keep humans safe in accidents is nothing new, but thus far there has been little in the way of crash testing for dogs. Subaru, a company that portrays itself as pet friendly, hopes to raise awareness on the issue of pet safety by funding initial crash testing by the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety, Automotive News reports.
Real dogs were not used in the crash tests; three dummy dogs representing a 25-pound terrier, a 45-pound border collie and a 75-pound golden retriever were used. There are a variety of devices for sale that are supposed to restrain dogs from entering the front-seat area and distracting the driver - tethers, cages, nets and crates - but their effectiveness in a crash is unknown.
In Subaru's crash test, performed at a Virginia laboratory that tests child seats on a device that speeds down a track and stops abruptly, the results show that devices such as dog tethers are prone to break in a crash, sending the dog rocketing into whatever is in front of it. Rather alarmingly, the organization reports a 100-percent failure rate. In other words, "None of the harnesses were deemed safe enough to protect both the dog and the humans in the event of an accident." Yikes.