The U.S. is progressing forward with plans to recall a minimum of 25 million vehicles due to faulty airbag inflators capable of exploding and spraying shrapnel towards drivers. However, the Canadian transport authorities lack the jurisdiction to mandate a similar broad recall, and are relying on vehicle manufacturers to initiate the process.
Disclosing the stance of Transport Canada, a top representative stated their commitment to not hesitate in acting to keep Canadians safe. They anticipate businesses to issue a notice of safety fault for vehicles and parts in Canada that are substantially alike those recalled in other nations, targeting also ARC airbag inflators.
ARC Automotive Inc., based in Tennessee, is however withholding from meeting the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall demand for millions of vehicles equipped with its airbag inflators. These devices have been implicated in a minimum of seven injuries and two fatalities since 2009, with a death reported in Newfoundland in 2016 and an injury in Michigan in March 2023.
U.S. authorities are moving swiftly, having set an October 5 public hearing, a prerequisite to gaining court permission for a recall potentially covering 52 million airbag inflators, or at the least 25 million of the 284 million vehicles plying U.S. roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration professed the risk of serious injury or death to passengers due to the inflator’s potential rupture and ejection of metal debris into the passenger compartment during the deployment of the airbag, following an eight-year investigation.
The inflators, created to safely deploy airbags, are found in cars produced by around a dozen manufacturers. Reported incidents involve various makes and models all made before January 2018, such as the 2002 Chrysler Town and Country, 2004 Kia Optima, 2009 Hyundai Elantra, among others. Despite this data, ARC Automotive continues to refute the existence of a wider safety issue, attributing the incidents to “isolated events” and “one-off” manufacturing anomalies.
U.S. authorities seek recalling all vehicles with pre-2018 ARC airbag inflators, while Transport Canada’s recall focus is on particular production lots linked to known incidents. In Canada, 45,507 vehicles with ARC airbag inflators have been recalled since 2017, a mere 1.3 per cent of the approximated 3.5 million vehicles in the country equipped with ARC airbag inflators.
Canadian recalls have included models from BMW, Ford, Hyundai, General Motors and Volkswagen manufactured between 2009 to 2017. Over 90% of these stem from a May 2023 recall of more than 42,000 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia SUV models from 2014 to 2017.
While disclosing an exhaustive list of vehicles with driver-side ARC airbag inflators, a Transport Canada spokesperson mentioned that they don’t have direct authority over component suppliers such as ARC Automotive Inc. However, they highlighted their ongoing collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation on the matter since 2016.