In yet another blow to automakers involving Takata airbags, GM is recalling another 7 million vehicles with airbags from the much-maligned manufacturer. Takata has been in recall news for the past decade, with their faulty airbags being confirmed to have caused 17 deaths in the United States alone.
What’s more, many investigators feel as though Takata’s airbags likely caused countless more deaths than that, but those deaths weren’t recorded as being related to the airbags.
Takata’s faulty airbags could cause shrapnel to be expelled while the airbag inflated. In a serious accident, this shrapnel would often be difficult to determine as being separate from the chaos and destruction of the crash.
However, due to the magnitude of the hardware failure seen in many of Takata’s most egregiously faulty airbags, many investigators are convinced that the airbags caused many more traffic fatalities than the official reports suggest.
The GM recall was actually ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday, not GM themselves. The automaker lost a prolonged battle with the federal authorities regarding the airbag recall, which GM felt was unnecessary.
The NHTSA, however, disagreed, believing the airbags in over 7 million GM pickup trucks and utility vehicles were too dangerous to leave on the road.
The recall, once again, focuses on the Takata airbag’s tendency to explode outward and send shrapnel into the vehicle cabin in an accident. In addition to the recorded deaths, drivers have been confirmed to be blinded and/or maimed due to the Takata airbag failures.
Takata’s infamous recalls began officially in 2014, though they had been in hot water for years before that with allegations of poor quality control in their products.
Monday’s decision by the NHTSA brings to a close a four-year saga for GM, who has argued that the inflator used in the vehicles affected by this latest recall made the airbags safe.
However, the NHTSA disagreed, publicly stating “NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators.”
This recall will be costly for GM, who is expected to lose some $1.2 billion by having to replace airbags in so many vehicles at no cost to their owners. Takata, for their own part, declared bankruptcy years ago, and has ceased any official operations. In effect, the recall scandal caused Takata to cease to exist in any official capacity.