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(Reuters) — U.S. auto safety officials will meet with major automakers on Wednesday, seeking a voluntary agreement from the industry to improve recall completion rates, prevent vehicle cyber attacks and spot defects earlier, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing the world's largest automakers to agree to voluntary reforms and announce them at a planned event Jan. 15 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, government officials say.
NHTSA sent invitations to 15 automakers, including General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen A.G., Honda Motor Co., Daimler A.G. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the sources said. All are expected to attend the seven-hour meeting, which is set at a government office building at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The agency invited automakers' top safety officials, and some automakers also will send government affairs officials, according to the sources.
In a memo to automakers last week marked "highly confidential," NHTSA said the meeting will focus on issues including improving safety culture, boosting recall completion rates, cyber security and making changes to early warning data reporting systems, the sources said.
The meeting also will include discussion of how automakers can alert NHTSA to potential safety issues earlier.
The memo was described to Reuters by several automakers who received it. NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge declined Tuesday to comment on the meeting, as did automakers.
In September, 10 automakers said they agreed in principle to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature in all future vehicles. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last week that 17 automakers now are involved in the talks to finalize a voluntary agreement.
NHTSA came under harsh criticism for failing to detect ignition switch defects in older General Motors cars linked to 124 deaths, and officials pledged to make reforms.
The NHTSA meeting follows a Dec. 1 meeting Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx held with top officials of 15 major automakers, including the CEOs of GM and Fiat Chrysler.
The Foxx meeting was prompted by record-setting recalls and cyber security threats to vehicles, the department said. Participants were asked to come prepared with suggestions to share and spend the next month working toward concrete commitments to industry-wide safety measures, the department said.