General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., are resisting pressure from U.S. regulators
Car manufacturers, such as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., are resisting pressure from U.S. regulators to carry out a massive recall of up to 52 million airbag inflators.
ARC airbags are used in vehicles from GM, Ford, Stellantis NV, Tesla Inc, Volkswagen AG, Hyundai Motor Co, BMW, Kia Corp, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Porsche, and Toyota Motor Corp.
Automakers argue in letters to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that there is no conclusive evidence of defects in ARC’s components, despite reports of some inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive Inc. exploding, causing injuries and even deaths in accidents.
In May, the agency reported seven cases of airbag ruptures causing injuries, including two deaths, from 2009 to March of the previous year. Regulators suspect that welding during the manufacture of ARC inflators may have left residues in the components. During an accident, the ignition’s gas is expected to fill the bag, but if the channel is obstructed, excessive pressure could build up, potentially releasing metal fragments.
The NHTSA has urged a broad recall, estimating it could cost up to $10 billion for automakers. Despite objections from ARC and other manufacturers, the NHTSA is proceeding with steps toward a unilateral decision, with the possibility of a mandatory action after the final review, although ARC could challenge the decision in court.
GM claimed to have voluntarily recalled over 1 million ARC airbag inflators, stating that the NHTSA’s recall could impact up to 15% of the over 300 million registered motor vehicles in the United States. Similarly, Ford expressed concerns about the scope of the recall, affecting over 2 million vehicles manufactured by the company between 2005 and 2017.
ARC Automotive Inc. asserts cooperation with the NHTSA’s investigation since 2015 and, in its online response on December 20, strongly disagrees with the need for this extensive recall.
The NHTSA aims to prevent a repeat of the Takata airbag scenario from over a decade ago, resulting in the largest automobile recall in U.S. history. GM and Ford were compelled to allocate $1.1 billion and $600 million, respectively, in repair costs related to Takata in the fourth quarter of 2020. The agency is expected to enforce a recall unless there is negotiation or an agreement in the coming weeks.
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