Exclusive: U.S., major automakers to announce safety accord Friday - sources

Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:10pm EST
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By David Shepardson

DETROIT (Reuters) - The U.S. government and a group of leading global automakers are set to announce a ground-breaking voluntary agreement at the Detroit auto show on Friday aimed at dramatically improving the industry's safety, according to company officials.

The unprecedented accord could set the framework for further discussions on safety reforms and mark a new era of cooperation between automakers and regulators after a record-setting year of safety fines, recalls and investigations into malfunctioning vehicles made by General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU.N: Quote), Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) and others.

The agreement, under discussion for several weeks, would also attempt to improve vehicle cyber security and the use of early-warning data to detect potential defects that might lead to safety problems or large-scale recalls, sources said.

The accord would be voluntary, but industry watchers said regulators would expect automakers to stick to their undertakings.

Automakers recalled a record-setting 63.95 million vehicles in the United States in 2014, incurring large fines from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Companies in the talks leading up to the agreement include GM, Toyota, Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote), Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE: Quote), Fiat Chrysler, BMW AG, Honda, Nissan Motor Co (7201.T: Quote) and Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote).

Talks are continuing and no final agreement has been reached, sources said on Monday. It is not clear if all 16 automakers involved in discussions will take part in Friday's announcement.

The agreement will be announced at the auto show in the U.S. auto capital of Detroit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and top auto executives, sources told Reuters.   Continued...

The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Lansing, Michigan October 26, 2015. Photo taken October 26.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook