Almost four million cars fitted with dangerous Takata airbags are the subject of a compulsory recall after the federal government said it was unhappy with the industry response.
The recall, one of the largest and most significant in Australia’s history, follows voluntary recalls by car makers last year.
“The previous voluntary recall has not been satisfactory overall and it’s the safety of all Australians which is the first priority of this government,” Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers to ensure that all dangerous Takata airbags are located and replaced as quickly as possible.”
The airbags have caused multiple deaths and injuries worldwide. One Australian has died and another was severely injured.
The problem is caused by high levels of moisture getting into the airbags. This can cause the propelling mechanism to catch fire and explode, scattering pieces of metal.
Manufacturers Ford, Holden and Volkswagen are among the 25 carmakers expected to urgently replace the airbags.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is updating its previously published list of cars affected by the voluntary recall.
The ACCC told The New Daily that car manufacturers have until April 3 to supply a full list of vehicle affected by the compulsory recall.
The ACCC said that as of January, the overall replacement rate for all voluntary recalls was only 63 per cent of the total number of affected vehicles under voluntary recall in Australia.
“Replacement rates for individual suppliers conducting voluntary recalls varied significantly, ranging from between 36 per cent to over 84 per cent,” the ACCC said.
“Four suppliers had replacement rates of less than 50 per cent of vehicles subject to their voluntary recalls,” it added.
The government action comes after federal Labor called for a compulsory recall in August last year.
“The sad thing about this is that this has been waiting in the wings for months and months,” shadow consumer affairs spokesman Tim Hammond told reporters in Canberra.
“It is an indictment of this government that they have taken so long to pull the trigger on a compulsory recall.”
Consumer watchdog boss Rod Sims said last year’s voluntary recall applied to 2.3 million vehicles but only about 1.3 million had airbags replaced.
The compulsory recall expands the scope to cover the millions of cars not dealt with last year and another 1.3 million not previously recalled.
The scale of the recall is so big it will be done on a rolling basis, with priority given to replacing airbags posing the most risk.
All affected airbags must be replaced by December 31, 2020.
The order affects vehicles made by Ford, GM Holden, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Hino Trucks.
The cost of the recall will be borne by the manufacturers.
See an airbag inflator exploding in a test lab:
– With AAP, ABC