Monday, September 19, 2016

GM requests year-long extension for recall of vehicles with Takata airbags.

Bloomberg News (9/16, Butters, Hull, 2.49M) reports that General Motors is requesting that NHTSA “delay by a year the mandatory recall of almost 1 million vehicles with airbags made by Takata Corp., saying the designated models have not been shown to carry the same risk as others linked to deaths and injuries.” In documents filed with the agency Friday, GM said its own tests on the faulty airbag inflators found them to be “not currently at risk of rupture,” having deployed 44,000 airbags in the test group with zero dangerous ruptures.
        The Detroit Free Press (9/16, Gardner, 971K) reports GM spokesperson Tom Wilkinson stated, “We’re working with Orbital ATK on research that, among other factors, looks at how these inflators wear as they age, so we can determine an accurate and reasonable safe service life of these air bags and inflators.” GM expects that testing to be completed about a year from now, August 2017. NHTSA spokesperson Bryan Thomas did not comment on GM’s request, “but a NHTSA document showed that the agency intends to decide no later than Nov. 16.”
        Reuters (9/16, Shepardson) reports that NHTSA says there are 6.8 million GM vehicles with these Takata airbags. Automotive News (9/16, Beene, 185K) points out that NHTSA “granted BMW an extension for a Takata recall last spring after the automaker had quality problems with replacement inflators it was lining up.” Law360 (9/16, Field, 19K) also reports.

        NHTSA investigates airbag failures, aging a possible factor. NBC News (9/18, 5.08M) reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have expanded their airbag investigation to include both Takata airbags and American-based ARC Automotive. Both airbags are known to “over-inflate during a crash, sending deadly shrapnel spewing into the passenger compartment.” However, a series of recalls since April of this year have shown that millions of “airbags may not function at all during a crash.” Federal regulators are now asking whether aging is an issue, as drivers keep their cars longer. Should this be the case, NHTSA could simply advise motorists to have their airbags replaced by a set date or it could develop new rules to “mandate replacements be made in order to register a vehicle.” 

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