Compulsory recall triggered by Takata airbag scandal

Deadly exploding airbag recall goes compulsory as Turnbull government urges Australians to get their cars fixed.

The Federal Government has decreed that about 2.3 million cars in Australia must be compulsorily recalled by car brands, following lengthy consultation with the national consumer watchdog in what is the country’s first ever compulsory vehicle recall.

Cars on the compulsory recall list include various models that have already been subject to a voluntary recall – Ford, Holden, Mazda, Honda and even Ferrari, among others – but also apply to models from manufacturers that have not already been identified. These include Ford, Holden, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.

The ACCC has ordered manufacturers to provide VINs of an additional 875,000 affected vehicles by April 3, so they can be added to the compulsory recall list.

The Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, made the announcement this morning, stating, “I have today issued a compulsory recall notice for vehicles fitted with defective Takata airbags, following an extensive safety investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”

One of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, Japanese company Takata has supplied carmakers faulty airbags whose parts deteriorate over time. In the event that faulty airbags are set off, they have been known to blast shrapnel into occupants.

Affected cars have been called ticking time bombs and vehicles with ‘Alpha’ airbags from Takata have a 50 per cent failure rate, and are currently in 27,000 Australian vehicles. The result is that a minor low-speed shunt can sets off an airbag that kills.

This fault has already claimed the lives of 23 people globally thus far, and caused 230 serious injuries. Police have blamed the deadly airbags for at least one Australian death.

Vehicles affected will include a high number of second-hand cars whose owners may have changed, and whose current owners may not be aware of the issue.

The government’s recall statement released today asserts that cars affected  “…will need to be replaced by 31 December 2020.”

It remains unclear what fines will be applied, if any, at a Federal level and what action the state governments can or will take such as de-registering affected vehicles.