Industry claims 350,000 killer airbags unfixable

 

Exclusive: More than 350,000 cars with killer Takata airbags will not be rectified before the government's December deadline.

The Federal Chamber of automotive Industries said more than 2.64 million airbags have been replaced in Australian vehicles, and that the car industry is on track to rectify a further 196,000 cars before the end of the year.

But car makers have asked the ACCC to waive mandatory recall orders for 216,138 cars they have not been able to fix.

The FCAI expects manufacturers to request exemptions for a further 150,000 cars in coming months. Those cars include vehicles which have been scrapped, exported or stolen, along with cars which have not been registered for more than two years.

Owners who do not want to take part in recalls represent a further problem, as manufacturers must prove they resisted recalls despite "multiple notification across multiple channels", according to ACCC guidelines.

Car makers say customers have abused, threatened and chased-away staff attempting to contact them.

Some owners have been reluctant to take part in recalls which involve cars being bought by the manufacturers for less than $1000, then crushed to avoid expensive repairs using difficult-to-source parts.

More than 2.64 million Takata airbags have been replaced in Australian vehicles.
More than 2.64 million Takata airbags have been replaced in Australian vehicles.

FCAI spokeswoman Lenore Fletcher said "the issue causing concern is the processing and approval of the vehicles classified as 'unreplaceable'".

"We currently have around 216,000 lodged with the ACCC, and there will be approximately another 150,000 lodged by suppliers in the next few months," she said.

"We need to ensure that these are all processed by the ACCC by December 31."

While manufacturers face penalties for failing to have 100 per cent of affected cars fixed or excluded from recall requirements, ACCC chair Rod Sims said there will be a degree of flexibility on the part of the government.

"The deadline stands, but under the arrangements the car companies could always come to us and say, for example, 'we couldn't get the last few cars, we suspect they're off the road'," Mr Sims said.

"There is an arrangement for them to explain why they can't meet the details of the timetable and for us to say well that's fine and perhaps reset the deadline.

"That's going to be a case-by-case matter, but we're certainly aware of the difficulties, certainly when people can't get out of their houses."

Mr Sims said the coronavirus crisis made it harder for manufacturers to meet the deadline.

"A lot of people haven't taken the car in. They didn't want to do that at this time," he said.

"There's unquestionably a delay. We're aware of it. We still want this done and dusted, but we'll be flexible."

Originally published as 350,000 Takata airbag cars to escape fix



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