Tesla, GM, Ford Among Automakers Hit As NHTSA Targets 52M Faulty Airbag Inflators

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Tuesday said it has made an initial decision that some air bag inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive and Delphi Automotive from 2000 through January 2018 must be recalled.

When commanded to deploy, these inflators may rupture and eject metal debris into the passenger compartment, the NHTSA said. Within the United States, these rupturing airbag inflators have injured at least seven and killed one person. NHTSA is also aware of at least two cases of rupture outside the U.S., it added.

Inflators affected by the initial decision include 41 million inflators manufactured by ARC and the nearly 11 million manufactured by Delphi under an agreement with ARC, taking the total number to a whopping 52 million.

These inflators have been incorporated into air bag modules of 12 vehicle manufacturers including BMW AG BMWYY, Ford Motor Co F, General Motors Co GM, Hyundai Motor Co HYMLF, Kia Corp KIMTF, Stellantis NV STLA, Mercedes-Benz Group AG MBGYY, Tesla Inc TSLA, Toyota Motor Corp TM, and Volkswagen AG VWAGY, NHTSA said.

Initial Recall Request: Though the NHTSA requested ARC to initiate a recall for the inflators in April earlier this year, the company declined alleging that the agency lacks sufficient evidence of a safety defect.

The company further minimized the seven confirmed ruptures as merely "occasional or isolated failures that are an inevitable part of any volume manufacturing process,” the NHTSA said.

Delphi Automotive, meanwhile, no longer exists. It was acquired by Autoliv ALV who may not have the legal liability for the inflators manufactured by Delphi.

The NHTSA will now hold a public meeting at the Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Oct.5 regarding the initial decision to force a recall.

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