New Auto Safety Bill Could Triple Cost Of Black Boxes

According to an article on, the auto safety bill being pushed through the legislature after Toyota’s unintended acceleration scandal could lead to a substantial increases in new car prices down the road.

The bill would mandate the installation of black boxes in all new vehicles and would raise the manufacturing standards closer to the level of aircraft black boxes:

Safety system and electronics suppliers say that if the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration requires all vehicles to be equipped with black boxes similar to those in airplanes — modules that can survive a severe crash, are waterproof and fireproof — the cost of the units could triple or more, bringing them to around $4,000 or $5,000. […]

“You’re getting to something that’s similar to aircraft black boxes, and those are extremely expensive,” the [engineering executive at a Tier 1 supplier] said.

Aircraft black boxes cost about $20,000. An automobile’s black box could cost around $4,000 or more.

“It wouldn’t be 20,000, but you could very easily wrap a few thousand in this thing,” the executive said. “For the guy who is out there buying a Chevy Cobalt, that’s a big change to the price of a car.”

This increased cost would likely be passed on directly to consumers.

As our previous email alert on this topic pointed out:

Among the many problems with such a bill, NHTSA has taken a weak stance on who owns the data collected by EDRs.  The agency gives some lip service to getting the vehicle owner’s consent before accessing the EDR information, but stops miles short of being definitive. Only twelve states currently have laws that address the ownership and use of black box data. Passing a law such as The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 without proper national legislation in place to control the contents of EDRs is irresponsible and dangerous to motorists.

For more information on black boxes/event data recorders, please read through the Black Box/EDR section of our website.

We’ve been warning of possible abuses of this technology and pointing out the lack of motorist protections for years but this topic will become increasingly important if this black box mandate goes through.

Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Comments are closed.