Jason Levine, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, which opposed GM’s petitions to avoid recalls, said it’s a good day for millions of GM owners who had to wait four years for a decision on “whether they are driving with an unexploded hand grenade in their steering wheel.”
By Tom Krisher
November 23, 2020
DETROIT — General Motors will recall about 7 million big pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators.
The announcement came Monday after the U.S. government told the automaker it had to recall 6 million of the vehicles in the U.S.
GM says it will not fight the decision, even though it believes the vehicles are safe. It will cost the company an estimated $1.2 billion, about one third of its net income so far this year.
The automaker had petitioned the agency four times since 2016 to avoid recalls, contending the air bag inflator canisters have been safe on the road and in testing. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday denied the petitions, saying the inflators still run the risk of exploding.
Owners complained to the NHTSA that the company was placing profits over safety.
Exploding Takata inflators caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 63 million inflators recalled. The U.S. government says that as of September, more than 11.1 million had not been fixed. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity, and they can explode with too much pressure, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel.
Twenty-seven people have been killed worldwide by the exploding inflators, including 18 in the U.S.
Monday’s decision by NHTSA is a major step in drawing the Takata saga to a close. It means that all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in the U.S. will be recalled, NHTSA said. Earlier this year the agency decided against 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.