Media coverage in New Zealand about the Takata airbag recall is likely to prompt an increase in inquiries from concerned members of the public, warns the Motor Industry Association (MIA).
However, the messages to car owners are still the same: affected vehicles are safe to drive, the recall is precautionary and, because of the size of the recall, not all vehicles can be fixed at once.
Takata’s airbag inflators, which contain ammonium nitrate, have been found to rupture airbags. The fault has been linked to at least 14 deaths and more than 150 injuries.
The fault has resulted in the largest-ever vehicle recall in history, affecting 100 million vehicles worldwide and about 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand.
But a Fair Go investigation shows just 60,000 of the 300,000 vehicles in New Zealand have been fixed, prompting numerous media stories about the recall this morning.
The time taken to fix all the vehicles is not unexpected given the size of the recall, MIA CEO David Crawford tells AutoFile.
“It’s probably fair to say it’s going okay but it’s slow. From an industry perspective we can understand why some customers might feel frustrated but it’s outside the control of manufacturers and distributors in New Zealand.”
Part of the delay is due to replacement parts coming from Takata, which also continues to make inflators for new cars, Crawford says.
However, the time involved in doing the replacements is also large – one distributor calculated it would take a year’s worth of labour to do all their replacements if the parts were available, he says.
“It’s that large, it has to be done in stages. We feel comfortable it can be done in stages given the low risk.”
There have been no known cases of faulty airbag inflators in the New Zealand or Australian markets, with the faults occurring in hotter climates.
Affected consumers are advised to wait for a letter from their distributor before taking their car into a franchised dealer to be fixed, Crawford says.
Customers should be reassured by the fact the repair will not cost them, he says. Franchises will pass the cost onto their distributor, which will pass the costs onto their manufacturing headquarters, which will claim the costs from Takata.
The risk of Takata going under and being unable to meet the repair costs is small, Crawford says.
It is “inevitable” the Fair Go coverage will lead to a “bit of hype” and distributors will likely receive extra calls as a result, he says.
“We anticipate call centres will be receiving quite a few calls about the recall but the message is still the same.”