Richmond Times-Dispatch

GMplans to recall 7M pickups, SUVs globally to replace air bag inflators

- BY TOMKRISHER

General Motors will recall about 7 million big pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace potentiall­y dangerous Takata air bag inflators.

The announceme­nt came Monday after the U.S. government told the automaker it had to recall 6million of the vehicles domestical­ly.

GMsays it will not fight the decision, even though it believes the vehicles are safe. It will cost the company an estimated $1.2 billion, about one-third of its net income so far this year.

The automaker had petitioned the agency four times since 2016 to avoid recalls, contending the air bag inflator canisters have been safe on the road and in testing.

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administra­tion on Monday denied the petitions, saying the inflators still run the risk of exploding.

Owners complained to the NHTSA that the company was placing profits over safety.

Exploding Takata inflators caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 63million inflators recalled. The U.S. government says that as of September, more than 11.1 million had not been fixed. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorat­e when exposed to heat and humidity, and it can explode with too much pressure, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel. Twenty-seven people have been killed worldwide by the exploding inflators, including 18 in the U.S.

Monday’s decision by the NHTSA is a major step in drawing the Takata saga to a close. It means that all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in the U.S. will be recalled, the NHTSA said. Earlier this year, the agency decided against a recall of inflators with amoisture-absorbing chemical called a dessicant. The NHTSA said it would monitor those inflators and take action if problems arise.

GMwill recall full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2007 through 2014model years, including the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups. The Silverado is GM’s top-selling vehicle and the second best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Also covered are the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and Avalanche; the Cadillac Escalade; GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 and 3500; and the GMC Yukon.

It took the agency more than four years to arrive at its decision, which comes toward the end of President Donald Trump’s four-year term.

The NHTSA said in a statement that it analyzed data on the air bags, including engineerin­g and statistica­l analyses, aging tests and field data.

“Based on this informatio­n and informatio­n provided to the petition’s public docket, NHTSA concluded that the GMinflator­s in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators,” the agency said.

The company has 30 days to give the NHTSA a proposed schedule for notifying vehicle owners and starting the recall, the statement said.

GMsaid that although it believes a recall isn’t warranted based on the factual and scientific records, it will abide by the NHTSA’s decision.

Spokesman Dan Flores said Monday that none of the inflators have blown apart in the field or in testing. But he said GMwants to avoid a long fight with the government.

“Although we are confident that the inflators in the GMT900 vehicles do not pose an unreasonab­le risk to safety, continue to perform as designed in the field and will continue to perform as designed in line with the results of our accelerate­d aging studies, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision to maintain the trust and confidence of customers and regulators,” he said.

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