There may be another airbag recall coming, and it may be just as industry-shaking as the Takata recall. Around 52 million airbags produced by ARC Automotive and Delphi maybe affected, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The affected airbags—a design designed by ARC and produced under license by Delphi—allegedly have a risk of rupturing when deployed. Risk of rupture is what prompted the Takata airbag recall, too, so the agency is well aware of the risks a defective inflator can pose. The regulator attributed seven injuries and at least one death to defects in ARC-designed inflators, though ARC Automotive has so far publicly declined that its airbags have an issue. Road & Track has reached out to ARC Automotive for further comment, and will update if we hear back.
If there is a recall, it'll have wide-ranging implications. The 52 million affected inflators are spread over 12 manufacturers: BMW, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen. The inflators were produced between 2000 and 2018. For a reference in scale, note that the Takata airbag recall was the single largest recall in automotive history. It affected roughly 67 million inflators. If all of the ARC Automotive and Delphi inflators are recalled, this will be the second-largest automotive recall of all time, dwarfing the 30-million-unit GM ignition0-switch recall.
Airbag inflator manufacturers also do not have the deep pockets of global automakers. The Takata airbag recall forced that inflator manufacturer into bankruptcy.
NHTSA will host a public meeting to discuss its findings on October 5. We should get more information shortly, but we'd expect to see a voluntary or forced recall in the near future.
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