The United States auto safety regulators has confirmed it received an official request from General Motors (GM) asking for a one-year extension on the order to recall nearly 1 million full-size pickups and SUVs equipped with passenger-side airbag inflators.
All affected vehicles with the banned inflators were declared “moving death traps” earlier in May.
An Auto News report says inflators in the GM vehicles made by crisis-stricken Japanese company Takata Corp. have been listed in a “large batch of the parts set to be declared defective by Takata on Dec. 31, 2016” when the company hopes to start its recall process.
In May, NHTSA set in motion a plan for Takata to recall all ammonium nitrate inflators without a desiccant in phases through the end of 2019. The expansion covered around 35 million passenger-side inflators on top of the roughly 29 million already under recall at the time. The order requires Takata to file defect reports covering the additional 35 million passenger-side inflators in batches on Dec. 31 of each year through 2019. Its first report was filed last May.
General Motors’ petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was filed on Sept. 2 for one-year extension as the company beckons on NHTSA to “include the roughly 980,000 GM trucks in a later defect report by Takata, due Dec. 31, 2017”.
GM says the deferral request, if granted, will allow more time for the automaker and Orbital ATK [a research firm working with GM and other automakers] to study Takata’s inflators. A long time research on the service life of Takata’s airbag parts is expected to bring a lasting solution that will solve the defects.
In addition, GM says drivers won’t face any risks if the NHTSA postpones its scheduled recall process for another year.
A spokesman for the automaker said field and lab testing indicates the inflators will “likely perform as designed until at least Dec. 31, 2019.”
GM also claims that a test on 44,000 of the passenger-side inflators have been carried out, adding that the airbags deployed in the field tests without a rupture.
“Likewise, no ruptures were observed in lab tests of 1,055 additional inflators from the oldest models in the affected population,” GM said.
According to the report, GM’s study on airbags’ parts and functions is scheduled to end in August 2017.
“GM is taking a systematic, engineering-based approach to better understanding the performance of Takata inflators installed in GM vehicles, and GM continues to share this information with NHTSA on a regular basis,” the company spokesman said.
The requested deferral covers pickups and SUVs based on the popular GMT900 platform from the 2007-12 model years, including the Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade as well as the GMC Sierra and Yukon. The trucks are equipped with passenger-side Takata airbag inflators using ammonium nitrate propellant that lacks a drying agent, known as a desiccant.
Reports confirm that GM’s request for a one-year delay is the first since NHTSA’s expanded Takata recall process began.
However, on a special consideration, BMW was granted an extension for a Takata recall last spring after the automaker had quality problems with replacement inflators it had already lined up.
Defective Takata inflators that can explode in a crash have been linked to 15 deaths, including 10 in the U.S., and more than 100 injuries, prompting the largest and most complex auto recall effort in U.S. history.
GM’s petition is set to be officially published on Sept. 20, kicking off a 14-day public comment period. NHTSA has until Nov. 16 to approve or deny the petition.