It’s been over a year since we last wrote about lethal Takata airbags, causing the largest automotive recall in history. Honestly, we cannot believe we still have to write about this outrageous case of corporate wrongdoing, which began in 2013.
But here’s the latest twist: your car will have a safer airbag if you purchase it in China – a nation renowned for human rights violations and all sorts of unsafe conditions - than if you buy it down the block at CarMax. That’s because China’s automakers are (finally) recalling their Takata airbags. CarMax, on the other hand, is selling them:
Last week, market leader Volkswagen and its JVs FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen announced a recall of 4.86 million vehicles in China due to potential issues with Takata’s airbag inflators. Reuters reports that the recall comes after Chinese watchdogs asked the German giant as well as GM and Mercedes-Benz to recall cars with Takata airbags earlier this year.
VW told the newswire that after discussions, Chinese authorities had concluded the fault could occur in rare cases when the air bag was deployed, “which may create a potential safety risk”.
“Acting upon advice from the Chinese safety authority, Volkswagen Group China therefore made this recall decision,” VW said, adding that it had not received any reports related to the issue affecting its vehicles globally, and that a parts analysis had found Takata airbag inflators were in “normal condition”.
China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) said that VW China would recall 103,573 vehicles, FAW-Volkswagen 2.35 million vehicles and SAIC Volkswagen 2.4 million vehicles. The watchdog said the recall would run from March 2018 into 2019.
General Motors and its joint venture in China, Shanghai GM, is following suit with a recall of more than 2.5 million vehicles. From October 29, GM will recall 13,492 imported Saab and Opel vehicles, followed by 2.51 million China-made Chevrolet and Buick cars from December 29.
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, GAQSIQ said the faulty Takata airbag inflator problem covers 37 car manufacturers and more than 20 million vehicles, of which 24 carmakers had recalled 10.59 million vehicles by the end of June.
It appears like the two major auto giants in China weren’t very proactive with the recall, allowing others to move first. Better late than never, though, and there have been no reports of incidents so far in China, which has climate on its side in this matter.
At least someone is responding to the concerns of safety advocates. Not so with the United States’ largest car dealer, CarMax. This week, the Center for Auto Safety, partnered with the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation, and the MASSPIRG Education Fund, released a new report about CarMax cars, finding:
“[M]ore than one-in-four vehicles reviewed had unrepaired safety recalls, including some with air bag inflators linked to deadly malfunctions.
A total of 461 vehicles contained at least one outstanding safety recall that had not been repaired, 41 of which had recalls for which no repair was available, the review by safety advocates found. The study looked at the recall status of about 1,700 used autos listed for sale at eight CarMax dealerships in three U.S. states.
Of those, 45 vehicles contained air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., the company behind the largest auto recall in history, that were subject to recall but had not yet been repaired.…
Meanwhile, we also learned this week that Mazda is recalling “about 58,000 of its 2015-16 Mazda6 models because a short circuit could cause the air bags to be deactivated and power-assisted steering to be lost, according to a report the automaker filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
It took almost 2 years for Mazda to act. Still makes them more responsible than CarMax.