The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans to initiate a mandatory recall of more than 52 million vehicle airbags manufactured by ARC Automotive, Inc. and Delphi Systems, LLC over a design defect that presents an “unreasonable risk of death and injury.”
An eight-year NHTSA investigation determined that ARC-manufactured front driver and passenger airbag deflators contain a design defect that causes welding debris to block the gas release, resulting in an explosion and projecting metal fragments into vehicle occupants.
ARC refused regulators’ requests to voluntarily recall the dangerous airbags manufactured between 2001 and 2017, contending that auto manufacturers are responsible for initiating recalls and that the NHTSA is overstepping its legal authority.
The company has consistently denied liability, shifting responsibility onto auto manufacturers installing ARC airbags, which include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, Toyota, Stellantis, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai, and Kia. Both ARC and automakers are named in a pending class action lawsuit for knowingly selling vehicles with exploding airbags that resulted in multiple deaths and serious injuries.
Delphi Systems, which manufactured an estimated 11 million airbags under an ARC license, ceased production in 2004, though the NHTSA believes them also flawed and subject to eventual recall.
In addition to airbags, the class action lawsuit claims that ARC inflators containing ammonium nitrate propellant tablets degrade when exposed to moisture, causing them to burn too rapidly and explode. The suit further alleges that ARC-manufactured inflators are responsible for at least seven explosions across the country and twice during safety testing, making manufacturers aware of the risks to consumers.
The NHTSA announced an official recall recommendation for over 50 million ARC airbag inflators in vehicles manufactured by Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz between 2000 and 2018. ARC argues there is no need to recall its inflators, stating that extensive testing and internal investigation determined the incidences were “isolated and not indicative of a systemic defect.”
However, the NHTSA estimates that approximately one in every 370,000 airbag deployments results in serious injuries, possibly much higher. The ARC airbag recall would be the largest in American history and the most extensive auto safety callback in over a decade.
If a vehicle airbag has injured you or a loved one, contact Anchor Legal Group, PLLC at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Eastern Shore, Virginia.