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U.S. government urges immediate recall of airbag inflators across automakers

More than 67 million airbag inflators may be recalled(opens in a new tab) due to safety concerns, following the results of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into alleged safety concerns. The report has prompted the U.S. government agency to urge the manufacturer to issue an immediate recall.

“While incidents are rare, the incidents that have occurred have been severe, prompting the agency to issue a recall request,” wrote NHTSA spokesperson Veronica Morales in a statement(opens in a new tab) reported by CNN. “NHTSA is taking this action under its authorities to investigate potential defects and oversee recalls as required by the Vehicle Safety Act.”

The investigation looked into safety bag inflators manufactured by Knoxville, Tennessee’s ARC Automotive, Inc.(opens in a new tab) during an 18-year inspection period before January 2018, Engadget reported. The airbag inflators were supplied to six airbag manufacturers, which were then incorporated into vehicles by at least 12 automakers. The agency has yet to note which automakers, specifically.

The NHTSA’s investigation was prompted by at least nine instances of the airbags violently rupturing and emitting metal fragments into the vehicle, resulting in one known death. GM has already issued a recall on one million vehicles(opens in a new tab) (including the 2014-2017 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia) in response to the investigation and an accident involving the rupturing of a front-driver air bag inflator in one its vehicles.

But in response to a letter from NHTSA, ARC contested the agency’s findings and request for a recall, writing, “We disagree with NHTSA’s new sweeping request when extensive field testing has found no inherent defect.” Additionally, the company’s vice president for product integrity Steve Gold wrote in a response that “the test program demonstrated with 99% reliability and 99% confidence that the inflators in the subject population would deploy without rupturing.” According to ARC, the aforementioned incidents were the result of “one-off” defects that have already been addressed by their respective automakers.

Other airbag recalls have already churned the market, following global safety concerns. Since 2016, more than 67 million airbags from Japanese manufacturer Takata have been recalled in the United States, with another 100 million worldwide.

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