The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has demanded that ARC Automotive recall 67 million airbags due to an “unreasonable risk of death and injury.” The recall request comes after a nearly eight-year-long investigation by NHTSA into the potential risks associated with ARC airbags.
NHTSA found that some of the airbags “project sharp metal fragments” when deploying and can severely injure the driver and front passenger.
“NHTSA has investigated and identified a risk associated with a set of ARC air bag inflators that if left unaddressed would lead to more incidents in the future,” Veronica Morales, a spokesperson for NHTSA, told Entrepreneur. “While incidents are rare, the incidents that have occurred have been severe.”
The recall request letter cited nine instances (two outside the U.S.) where defective airbags caused serious injury to passengers. Two of the nine cited airbag ruptures were fatal. The earliest incident cited was in 2009, and the latest was in March 2023.
“Air bag inflators that project metal fragments into vehicle occupants, rather than properly inflating the attached airbag, create an unreasonable risk of death and injury,” Stephen Ridella, director of NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, wrote in the letter.
Of the seven incidents cited in the U.S., four were General Motors (GM) vehicles. Shortly after NHTSA’s letter to ARC, GM issued a recall of nearly one million vehicles equipped with ARC airbags.
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However, ARC disagrees with the agency’s request and replied in a letter that the recall is not “based upon any objective technical or engineering conclusion regarding the existence of a defect.”
The company claims in its reply that the incidents cited by NHTSA were “one-off” irregularities and that the ruptures were “isolated events” that were previously addressed.
If ARC continues to reject the recall request, the next step for the NHTSA would be to schedule a public hearing, which, if taken to court, could result in ARC being forced to comply with the recall.
Entrepreneur has reached out to ARC for comment.
Related: Why Tesla Just Recalled More Than 817,000 of Its U.S. Vehicles