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So far, about 23.4 million Takata driver and passenger air bag inflators have been recalled on 19.2 million US vehicles sold by 11 different companies. Photo: AFP
So far, about 23.4 million Takata driver and passenger air bag inflators have been recalled on 19.2 million US vehicles sold by 11 different companies. Photo: AFP

Takata air bag problem widens to some 2015 GM vehicles

GM is recalling more than 400 vehicles because the side air bag inflators could rupture and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers

Detroit: The deadly problem with exploding Takata air bag inflators continues to spread to newer vehicles, this time hitting a small number of 2015 General Motors cars and SUVs.

GM is recalling more than 400 vehicles because the side air bag inflators could rupture and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers, according to the company and documents posted Saturday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The GM recall is the latest in a problem that continues to widen with no end in sight. US regulators have warned that more manufacturers and newer models are likely to become involved. Eight people have been killed worldwide because of the faulty inflators and more than 100 have been hurt.

So far, about 23.4 million Takata driver and passenger air bag inflators have been recalled on 19.2 million US vehicles sold by 11 different companies, including Honda and Fiat Chrysler.

The inflators use ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the air bags in a crash. But Takata has said the chemical can degrade inside inflators that are exposed to high temperatures and airborne humidity for prolonged periods. That can cause the chemical to burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister designed to contain the explosion.

The latest recall covers certain 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu and Camaro vehicles as well as the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS and GMC Terrain. GM told NHTSA that on 5 October, one side air bag inflator exploded with too much force in testing at a Takata plant in Mexico. Takata notified GM on 6 October, and GM traced the inflators to 414 vehicles in North America. The company decided on the recall on 9 October, according to the documents.

“No other lots of air bag inflators are suspect," GM spokesman Alan Adler said in an email.

Dealers are contacting the vehicle owners and GM already is shipping replacement inflators that weren’t part of the faulty lot. The company will make loaner cars available to owners, who should get to a dealer as soon as possible to get the cars repaired, Adler said. Dealers also will arrange to pick up the vehicles and take them in for repairs, Adler said. No crashes or injuries have been reported with the recalled vehicles, he said.

The GM recall is the second report of side air bag inflators rupturing in newer models. The NHTSA has been investigating a June crash involving a Volkswagen SUV near St. Louis in which the left side air bag inflated with too much force. The crash between a deer and a 2015 VW Tiguan was the first reported in a Volkswagen and the first involving a side air bag. Previously, Takata said the problems were limited to older models and front air bags.

The NHTSA is preparing for a public meeting Thursday in Washington to discuss the Takata investigation and whether the agency will take over management of all the recalls to speed up repairs. As of 1 September, only 4.4 million air bag inflators had been replaced. Automakers have had to scramble to get parts.

The recalls currently cover 11 auto and truck companies, including BMW, Daimler Trucks, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. But the NHTSA warned that recalls could spread to Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, Suzuki, Tesla, Volvo Trucks, Volkswagen and Spartan Motors. AP

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