In what may be one of the biggest recall in the automotive world, General Motors has announced it is calling in as many as seven million vehicles across the globe to check potential problems with Takata airbags installed, replacing them if required.
This is a major setback for the automaker as Reuters noted the company had estimated the recall would cost them $1.2 billion (£903 million / €1 billion).
GM had petitioned the agency four times starting in 2016 to avoid a recall, contending the air bag inflator canisters have been safe on the road and in testing.
As many as 27 people around the world have been killed due to the exploding inflators, putting every vehicle maker to have made use of Takata air bags in the line of recall fire.
The vehicles involved in this campaing are SUVs and pickups from the 2007 to 2014 model years. The NHTSA determined the inflators still run the risk of exploding.
The recall includes some Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon vehicles built over an eight-year period. It is reported though that this chemical deteriorates when exposed to heat and humidity, and can make the air bag explode without warning.
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"One of the big concerns that safety advocates have", says Eisenstein, "is whether or not GM will be able to get everybody with these potentially risky airbags to in fact come back to dealers and get the repairs made". Earlier this year the agency decided not to seek a recall of inflators with a moisture-absorbing chemical called a dessicant. NHTSA said it would monitor those inflators and take action if problems arise. But he said GM wants to avoid a drawn-out fight with the government. Nonetheless, the company will abide by the NHTSA's decision and said "The safety and trust of those who drive our vehicles is at the forefront of everything we do at General Motors".
In a 2019 petition to the NHTSA, GM said the inflators were created to its specifications and are safe, with no explosions even though almost 67,000 air bags have deployed in the field.
But Takata declared the GM front passenger inflators defective under a 2015 agreement with the government. "GM's inflators carry the same risk of exploding and severely harming vehicle occupants as all other Takata inflators".
Shares of GM were trading at $44.88 as of 1:36 p.m. EST on Monday, up $1.84 or 4.29%.
Drivers can check if their vehicles have been recalled via the website link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number.
The previous Takata recalls drove the Japanese company into bankruptcy and brought criminal charges against the company.
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