The U.S. government is taking a significant step to compel a Tennessee company that has been resistant to recall 52 million airbag inflators, which have the potential to explode, shoot out shrapnel, and cause harm or even fatalities.
On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced its initial determination that the inflators, produced by ARC Automotive Inc. and licensed by another company, are indeed flawed. As a crucial step before initiating a court-ordered recall, the agency has scheduled a public hearing for October 5.
Back in May, NHTSA initially requested ARC to recall the inflators, connecting them to at least seven injuries and two deaths in the U.S. and Canada since 2009. However, ARC has staunchly refused to issue a comprehensive recall, setting the stage for a potential legal battle.
Efforts to seek comments from ARC on Tuesday proved unfruitful. The company maintains its position that no safety defect exists, emphasizing that NHTSA’s demand is based on a hypothesis rather than technical evidence. ARC also argues that the agency lacks the authority to mandate recall announcements for parts manufacturers.
NHTSA’s objective is to compel ARC to recall inflators found in both driver and front passenger airbags from a minimum of a dozen automakers. While neither ARC nor the auto industry has disclosed a complete list of vehicle models equipped with these potentially dangerous airbag inflators, it is believed that approximately 33 million out of 284 million vehicles on U.S. roads may contain them.
Owners of vehicles produced by at least a dozen automakers, including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai, and Kia, are left in anxious anticipation, wondering whether their vehicles are equipped with driver or front passenger inflators manufactured by ARC.
Despite ARC’s resistance to a comprehensive recall, automakers have conducted seven smaller recalls of inflators since 2017, attributing them to isolated manufacturing issues. One such recall, involving nearly 1 million vehicles, was announced by General Motors in May. Stay informed as this unfolding story develops!