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Airbags: NHTSA Investigation Impacts 12.3 Million Vehicles

Airbags issues in recent years have revolved largely around products manufactured by Takata for a number of manufacturers. But a new investigation launched by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) into an airbag issue has nothing to do with the now-defunct Japanese parts manufacturer.

The safety organization is looking at an issue that could impact 12.3 million vehicles equipped with a defective airbag that could fail to deploy in the event of a collision. According to the Associated Press, eight fatalities have been linked to the problem.

On Tuesday the NHTSA posted an announcement on its website that it was taking a closer look at airbags manufactured by the company TRW Automotive Holdings Corp, now a division of the ZF Friedrichshafen group. At the heart of the issue is an electrical defect that could prevent the airbag from deploying. As well, the seatbelts would not in that case tighten up as they normally would in reaction to a collision.

Photo: D.Boshouwers

The vehicles included in the investigation, of model years ranging from 2010 to 2019, belong to a variety of manufacturers: FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota.

The NHTSA first looked into the issue in 2018, but recent information connected to four deaths aboard Hyundai/Kia vehicles, three inside FCA vehicles and one in a Toyota Corolla, have led the organization to push the investigation further, upgrading it from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis.

FCA had on its own recalled 1.4 million in connection with the problem in 2016. Since then, the NHTSA has recorded no subsequent airbag-related issues in FCA Group vehicles.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of the investigation over the coming weeks and months.

Photo: V.Aubé