GM is recalling 7 million pickups and SUVs worldwide with airbags made by the same manufacturer whose airbags are linked to at least 17 deaths in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered a US recall on Monday, rejecting GM’s argument that this version of the airbags didn’t need to be replaced.
The recall centers on a defect in airbags made by Takata, a now-bankrupt Japanese manufacturer. Another version of the Takata airbag had a defect in the inflator that caused a number of the bags to explode, spraying shrapnel through the vehicle. In addition to the 18 deaths, more than 400 drivers or passengers have been injured, including being blinded or maimed.
Recalls linked to the Takata airbags began in 2014, and, in aggregate, ultimately became the largest auto recall in history. Prior to this week’s announcement, the US portion of the recall had already reached 67 million airbags in more than 40 million vehicles.
Although the Takata airbags used by Ford are a different but similar version from those involved in the previous recalls, safety regulators said they still pose a risk.
The NHTSA in November rejected a similar appeal by General Motors (GM), forcing the automaker to recall 7 million pickups and SUVs. The agency has also rejected an appeal from Mazda, but that covered only 5,800 US pickups that were built for the automaker.
Ford models included in the recall
The models covered by the recall include the 2007 to 2011 Ford Ranger, the 2006 to 2012 Ford Fusion, the 2006 to 2012 Lincoln Zephyr, the 2007 to 2010 Ford Edge and the 2007 to 2010 Lincoln MKX. The Mazda vehicles being recalled are the 2007 to 2009 B-Series pickup trucks.
Owners will be notified if their vehicle is included in the recall, or they can enter the VIN number on this site. Ford will repair the airbags, and vehicle owners will not be charged.
It will cost Ford $610 million to replace the airbags as a result of NHTSA’s decision. Because of Takata’s bankruptcy, Ford is shouldering all costs itself.
“Safety is always a top priority,” said Ford spokesperson Monique Brentley. “Unlike other Takata passenger-side airbag parts previously under recall, these driver-side airbags contain a moisture-absorbing [material] and perform differently. We believe our extensive data demonstrated that a safety recall was not warranted for the driver-side airbag. However, we respect NHTSA’s decision and will issue a recall.”
‘The severity of the consequence’
NHTSA officials, however, said the airbags become more subject to malfunction over time, and that the “severity of the consequences” to passengers and drivers when the inflators rupture was too serious. “What Ford presents here, while valuable and informative in certain respects, suffers from far too many shortcomings,” the agency wrote in its decision.