Until last week, the “new General Motors,” which is supposed to be different from the old one, sold cars in Latin America without airbags, arguing that people there were too poor to care whether their cars were safe. Last week, GM changed its mind after “the Latin New Car Assessment Program — an independent testing organization — said …[the Chevy] Sail received zero stars in its latest tests. The organization said the Sail is unstable and has no air bags. It also lacks three-point seat belts in all positions.”
That reminds me of something. Oh yeah. Back in the 1980s, GM fought putting airbags in U.S. cars, arguing that the public didn’t want them. Guess no matter how new you are, some things never change.
I will give them this, however. The public never wanted lethal airbags. Yet that’s what they got. On Wednesday,
U.S. auto safety regulators said … there were about 85 million unrecalled Takata Corp … air bag inflators in U.S. vehicles that would eventually need to be recalled unless the company can prove they are safe.
This is the first public accounting by the U.S. government of the total number of unrecalled Takata air bag inflators. So far 28.8 million in the United States have been recalled due to the risk that they can explode with too much force and spray metal shards inside vehicles.
More than 11 people have been killed worldwide in incidents linked to defective Takata inflators, including the March 31 death of a 17-year-old driver in Texas. Globally, more than 50 million have been recalled.
According to one recent report,
The recall, which is expected to run until December 2019, involves airbag inflators with a ‘suspect propellant’ used on vehicles made by Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks North America (Sterling Bullet), Daimler Vans USA LLC (Sprinter), Dodge/Ram, Ford, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen.
The model years appear to span mostly 2000 to 2014. A May 2015 NHTSA estimate placed the overall number of defective inflators at 34 million.
Well that’s helpful. But now we’re discovering that Takata isn’t the only airbag problem around. "Ford is recalling 37,066 examples of the 2015-16 Transit van over an issue with the side curtain airbags – specifically those manufactured between March 12, 2014, and March 18, 2016, in vehicles ordered with low roofs.” This is “[d]ue to an error in the assembly process at the TRW facility in Mexico” where “some vehicles may have had their side curtain airbags incorrectly packed, which could cause them to deploy incorrectly in the event of a side collision or rollover."
And that’s not all. Here's one for the rich folks: “BMW AG …is recalling its new flagship 7-series luxury limousine due to a potential air bag deployment issue.” Specifically, “[a]irbags in 26,000 cars produced before Dec. 11, 2015 may have a defective air bag control module, the company said, adding that there have been no known cases of faulty deployments.”
Don’t you sometimes yearn for the old days when seatbelts were the problem? Ooops, scratch that. “GM said Friday that it would issue a recall for 2014 and 2015 model-year Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks” - because of a seat belt defect.