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Infiniti recalls Q50 sedans over steer-by-wire system

Mon, 16 Dec 2013

Infiniti is recalling a number of its new 2014 Q50 sedans over a fault in its steer-by-wire system. The recall concerns Q50 sedans equipped with Direct Adaptive Steering that have received a software version which may disable the power steering software when the engine compartment reaches freezing temperatures. There's a mechanical backup system to prevent steering failure that kicks in via a clutch if the Direct Adaptive Steering were to fail, but the NHTSA notes that this backup may not engage in time if the Direct Adaptive Steering fails, increasing the chance of a crash.

Just 23 vehicles are affected by this recall, as it's due to a one specific version of the software. Owners have been instructed to have their cars towed to the nearest Infiniti dealership.

The Q50 features a novel steer-by-wire system which Infiniti spent ten years developing, that for now remains the sole steer-by-wire system available in passenger cars in the U.S. market. The system is designed that so that there is no actual physical connection between the steering and the front wheels, with the Q50 using a computer and a steering angle-actuator to direct the front wheels. The system employs three redundant ECUs (Electronic Control Units), so that if the primary ECU fails, there are two more backups. Infiniti hopes to eventually reduce the complexity, weight, and cost of the steer-by-wire system.

Mercedes-Benz famously dropped Bosch's Sensotronic brake-by-wire system in the 2003-2009 E-class and CLS-class after a recall affected 1.3 million vehicles, citing costs and software failures that led to loss of consumer confidence.

By Jay Ramey