The Australian government may impose a mandatory recall of defective Takata airbags if car manufacturers are not doing enough to fix them voluntarily.
The malfunctioning Takata airbags, which have been linked to 18 deaths and over 180 injuries around the world, may explode and launch metal shards at passengers when deployed.
Investigation by consumer advocate group CHOICE revealed that 12,300 vehicles with faulty airbags are still on Australian roads, and even some of the replacement device are similarly potentially malfunctioning.
In a statement released on Monday, Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack warned car manufacturers that the federal government has “the power to impose mandatory recalls if necessary”.
Car manufacturers involved, including BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Ferrari, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Performax, Subaru and Toyota are currently doing voluntary recall programs. Lexus and Toyota have admitted to be replacing faulty airbags with identical ones, and would need to refit some of the vehicles.
CHOICE spokesman Tom Godfrey said the use of potentially defective airbags as the replacement was disappointing. “With 2.3 million vehicles in Australia requiring their potentially lethal Takata airbags to be replaced, it’s clear the car companies are under pressure to fulfil their obligations under Australian consumer law,” Godfrey told News.com.au.
“However, refitting vehicles with the same dangerous airbags still leaves people driving ticking time-bombs.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started an investigation into the matter.
Chairman Rod Sims said consumers should act as soon as they can. “Do not ignore or delay responding to a letter from your car’s manufacturer or retailer asking you to have your car’s airbag replaced,” Sims said.