Compulsory recall of 50,000 airbags

Technician holds a recalled Takata airbag inflator

The New Zealand Government to announce a compulsory recall of 50,000 faulty Takata airbags in vehicles across the country.

Minister of Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi said today that several hundred thousand airbag units in use in New Zealand cars need to be recalled for safety reasons.

“I am concerned, to say the least, to advise that in New Zealand more than 450,000 vehicles are affected by the overall Takata recall,” Faafoi said.

“79,000 of these are the higher-risk Alpha-type airbags – 50,000 vehicles still need Alpha-type airbags to be replaced.

“In summary, we have inherited a situation where 307,000 vehicles are still on the road in New Zealand being used by everyday families, where a safety risk known to the previous government since 2013 has not been sufficiently addressed … we can not allow this to go unaddressed.”

The Australian government made a similar move back in February, which affected more than two million vehicles.

Prior to this there were voluntary recalls being undertaken by several different manufacturers in New Zealand since it was discovered a global recall of Takata airbags could affect up to 100 million vehicles worldwide.

In October last year, it was revealed that around 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand were affected by the fault. A Fair Go investigation at the time showed just 60,000 of the 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand had been fixed, prompting numerous media stories about the recall.

There have been no injuries or fatalities involving the faulty product, however in Australia there has been both a serious injury and one death.

Millions of airbags supplied by Japanese automotive parts manufacturer Takata Corporation were built with inflators containing a chemical which causes a small explosion that inflates the airbags.

These inflators have a flaw that, particularly after exposure to hot and humid conditions, can explode with excessive force, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

Last month the Motor Industry Association (MIA) asked the Government to find a mechanism which requires owners of affected vehicles to bring their vehicles into a franchised dealer for the recalled component to be replaced if they do not respond to letters from manufacturers within a reasonable time period. 

More updates to come.

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