Automakers Challenge NHTSA’s Push for Second-Largest U.S. Recall Over Airbag Inflator Issue

Airbag recall (

General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Others Oppose NHTSA’s Recall Bid Citing Minimal Risks

The Regulatory Battle Unfolds

Major automakers, including General Motors, Toyota Motor, and Volkswagen, are pushing back against the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s attempt to mandate the recall of 52 million airbag inflators. The NHTSA claims that inflators from manufacturers ARC Automotive and Delphi Automotive could rupture, potentially causing the ejection of metal fragments and posing a risk of injuries or fatalities.

Eight-Year Investigation and Automaker Resistance

The NHTSA’s recall effort follows an eight-year investigation that linked the airbag issue to one fatality and seven injuries in the United States. If enforced, this recall would rank as the second-largest in U.S. history. Despite the severity of the potential consequences, automakers and manufacturers challenge the NHTSA’s analysis, asserting that the risks associated with the problem are minimal. They question the agency’s justification for such a massive recall, arguing that a significant need has not been demonstrated.

Automakers’ Opposition and Safety Concerns

Major players in the automotive industry, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, and Porsche, have joined the opposition, questioning the validity of the safety concerns raised by the NHTSA. ARC Automotive emphasizes that, based on NHTSA’s estimated failure rate, there would be less than one new rupture over the next 33 years. General Motors, previously recalling 1 million ARC inflators, criticizes the lack of evidence supporting the need for an extensive recall, potentially affecting up to 15% of registered vehicles in the U.S.

Legal Challenges and Industry Response

GM and Stellantis characterize the NHTSA’s decision as “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law,” with at least 20 million GM vehicles potentially affected. Volkswagen and other automakers echo the sentiment, stating that there is no reasoned basis for recalling hundreds of thousands of vehicles. Delphi Automotive, responsible for manufacturing around 11 million of the inflators through 2004, opposes the recall, emphasizing the NHTSA’s failure to prove the inflators’ defectiveness.

The Uncertain Fate of the Recall

Despite automakers’ resistance, NHTSA officials emphasize the severity of potential consequences, describing the outcomes as “severe and potentially deadly.” As the regulatory body considers its response to automaker opposition, the fate of the proposed recall remains uncertain, leaving both the industry and consumers in suspense.