General Motors Company has asked U.S. safety regulators to delay a recall of nearly 1 million trucks equipped with Takata airbag inflators so it can demonstrate the vehicles are safe and avoid a hit to the company’s profits. According to a Reuters news report, the automaker, in a petition filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on September 2, asked to delay the recall set to begin by December 31.
The GM vehicles at issue at 2007-2012 are the full-size SUVs and trucks. The automaker asked for a one-year delay saying that it would allow them to complete an aging study to look into the service life of the airbag inflators.
NHTSA has identified 6.8 million GM vehicles equipped with Takata airbags, which it says must be recalled. GM has said previously that it does not believe there is safety defect in any of the 6.8 million vehicles, but agreed to an initial recall after talks with federal regulators. GM has estimated the cost of replacing all 6.8 million Takata airbags at $870 million.
At Odds with Federal Regulators
The company is apparently still in talks with NHTSA about the recall. The automaker maintains that its Takata inflators have a unique design that prevents the safety risk. The company has also said data showed no cases of an airbag rupturing among 44,000 deployments in the pickups and SUVs equipped with certain Takata inflators. GM’s stance is at odds with regulators’ position that all front Takata airbag inflators that don’t have a drying agent must be recalled. So far, the Takata airbag inflators have been linked to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide. These faulty inflators can explode with too much force and spray metal shrapnel into vehicle passenger compartments seriously injuring or even killing occupants.
Putting Profits Before People?
The question here is whether GM is stalling the recall due to its belief that the vehicles are safe or because they are guarding their profits. Automakers have a responsibility and a legal obligation to ensure that their vehicles are safe. We have witnessed so many tragic fatalities and serious injuries that have been caused by defective Takata airbags. These faulty airbag inflators have led to an unprecedented number of vehicles being recalled.
But, a recall is necessary when consumers’ lives are in jeopardy. Stalling tactics are a routine practice our auto product liability attorneys have seen automakers engage in to protect their bottom lines.