Feds Urgently Request Extensive Recall due to Air Bag Explosions

Feds Urgently Request Extensive Recall due to Air Bag Explosions wsjrenewal

Federal vehicle-safety regulators are urging a massive recall of air bag inflation devices following a series of hazardous air bag explosions, which has led to two fatalities and eight injuries. The manufacturer of these devices, however, contests the necessity of such a widespread recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently publicized its demand for Tennessee-based ARC Automotive to recall approximately 67 million air bag inflators. The agency expressed concern over the potential for these inflators to explode during a collision, projecting dangerous metal shrapnel throughout the vehicle’s interior.

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NHTSA’s decision comes after an exhaustive eight-year investigation into the faulty inflators. Remarkably, this development coincides with General Motors’ recall of around 1 million SUVs, marking the most significant recall associated with the alleged defect to date.

Here’s what you should know about the Air Bag Explosions:

What steps have regulators taken thus far regarding the ARC air bag inflators?
In mid-2015, NHTSA safety inspectors initiated an investigation into these inflators, which rapidly inflate the airbag in the event of a crash. The reports of two injuries prompted the inquiry. The investigation involved overseeing field tests conducted by suppliers, as well as inspections of incidents where the inflators ruptured.

On Friday, the regulatory agency released a public letter addressed to ARC, demanding the recall of 67 million inflators. These inflators were reportedly utilized in vehicles sold by at least 12 automakers in the United States, spanning models produced between 2000 and early 2018.

Which vehicle models have been subject to recalls?

To date, eight recalls have been issued, predominantly affecting a relatively small number of vehicles. The most substantial recall occurred last week when General Motors recalled nearly 1 million SUVs. Prior to that, there were seven recalls dating back to 2017, including recalls from GM, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen. These recalls encompassed a total of approximately 6,400 vehicles.

Which models are equipped with potentially defective air bag inflators?

General Motors’ recent recall encompasses Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia SUVs manufactured between 2014 and 2017. The earlier recalls involve limited quantities of the following models: 2017 BMW X5; 2017 Ford Mustang and F-150; 2010 and 2011 Chevy Malibu; 2008 to 2017 Buick Enclave, as well as unspecified 2016 Volkswagen and Audi models.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate that approximately 30 million vehicles may contain the potentially flawed devices. However, neither the company nor regulators have provided specific identification beyond the roughly 1 million vehicles currently subject to the recall.

What precisely is the issue at hand?

Regulators assert that ARC’s metal inflators are prone to rupturing upon deployment, propelling sharp metal fragments throughout the vehicle. They attribute the risk of explosion to a manufacturing flaw in the inflator’s welding process. This flaw can lead to an accumulation of pressure within the inflator, significantly increasing the likelihood of an explosion.

Incidents involving air bag ruptures have resulted in severe injuries to the face and neck of affected individuals.

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In response, ARC stated in a letter to NHTSA that extensive investigations and tests conducted by ARC, air bag suppliers, automakers, and federal safety regulators were unable to determine the root cause or replicate any instances of device rupture. GM, in its recall notice, emphasized that “the reason for these inflator ruptures remains unknown” and confirmed an ongoing investigation into the matter.

How does ARC respond to NHTSA’s demand?

In a detailed 17-page letter submitted to NHTSA, ARC expressed strong disagreement with the agency’s “tentative conclusion” regarding the safety defect in the 67 million devices. The

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