US al­lows GM to de­lay re­call to prove safety of air bags

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

DETROIT: US auto safety reg­u­la­tors are al­low­ing Gen­eral Mo­tors to de­lay a large re­call of po­ten­tially de­fec­tive air bags, giv­ing the com­pany time to prove that the de­vices are safe and to pos­si­bly avoid a huge fi­nan­cial hit.

The un­usual move by the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion buys time for an out­side com­pany hired by GM to do long-term tests of Takata air bag in­fla­tors in older trucks and SUVs in­clud­ing GM’s top-sell­ing ve­hi­cle, the Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pickup.

GM re­luc­tantly agreed to re­call 2.5 mil­lion ve­hi­cles in May to re­place Takata front pas­sen­ger in­fla­tors. But the com­pany said at the time its in­fla­tors are unique and safer than those linked to 11 deaths in the US and as many as 16 world­wide.

The com­pany pe­ti­tioned for the de­lay last week and the govern­ment agreed on Mon­day. The de­ci­sion de­lays the re­call un­til Aug. 31, 2017. If GM can prove to NHTSA that the in­fla­tors are safe by that time, the re­call could be can­celed.

The re­call cov­ered the Sil­ver­ado, GMC Sierra pickup and many pop­u­lar full-size SUVs from the 2007 to 2011 model years. Some of the trucks are now older than the min­i­mum six years that it takes for Takata in­fla­tors to de­te­ri­o­rate and be­come risky. But GM con­tends its tests so far show that they are safe for at least 3 1/2 more years.

The test­ing could help GM fend off sev­eral re­calls to­tal­ing 6.8 mil­lion trucks and SUVS with the same in­fla­tors that ul­ti­mately could cost the com­pany $870 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a GM fil­ing with se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tors. An­other batch of re­calls is slated to start on Dec. 31. The de­lay also pushes the de­ci­sion into the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who has stated that he wants to get rid of un­nec­es­sary govern­ment reg­u­la­tion.

GM said the tim­ing of its fil­ings was motivated by up­com­ing NHTSA dead­lines. “Any other con­clu­sion is just spec­u­la­tion,” spokesman Tom Wilkin­son said in a com­pany state­ment.

Takata uses the chem­i­cal am­mo­nium ni­trate to create a small ex­plo­sion and quickly in­flate air bags in a crash. But tests have shown the chem­i­cal can de­te­ri­o­rate when ex­posed to high tem­per­a­tures and air­borne mois­ture. That can make it burn too fast, blow­ing apart a metal can­is­ter de­signed to con­tain the ex­plo­sion, fling­ing shrap­nel into driv­ers and pas­sen­gers.

In ad­di­tion to the deaths, more than 100 peo­ple have been hurt by the ex­plod­ing in­fla­tor canis­ters.

TOKYO: The logo of Takata Corp at an auto sup­ply shop in Tokyo. US safety reg­u­la­tors an­nounced Mon­day, they are al­low­ing Gen­eral Mo­tors to de­lay a large re­call of po­ten­tially de­fec­tive air bags, giv­ing GM time to prove the de­vices are safe and pos­si­bly avoid a huge fi­nan­cial hit.

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