GM Makes Third Request to Avoid Takata Recalls

The automaker makes a case for letting 6.8 million vehicles remain on the road with defective airbags. 

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General Motors is asking for the government's approval in letting it bypass recalls of up to 6.8 million vehicles with Takata airbag inflators. 

Defective Takata inflators are blamed in the deaths of 22 people globally for exploding and spewing shrapnel. The trouble touched off a massive recall.

The automaker disclosed its third such request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a regulatory filing Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. GM stands to save $1 billion if it can avoid recalling full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2007 to 2011 model years, the company said.

GM submitted documents to avoid the recalls with NHTSA on Jan. 9, GM said in a yearly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The front-passenger inflators were custom-made for its trucks by the now-bankrupt Takata with larger vents and stronger steel end caps than other inflators, GM said in the filing. It added that no truck inflators had blown up, either on the road or in lab tests.

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The Drive

A GM spokesperson told The Drive that the company would not comment on the third petition until it had been posted publicly.

Jason Levine, director at the Center for Auto Safety, expressed concern about GM's stance, saying it was difficult to accept its claim "that these 6.8 million vehicles with Takata airbag inflators will never kill anyone when GM has not even replaced half of the inflators on the vehicles they have recalled.” 

The consumer advocacy group last month called on the NHTSA to review extensions already granted to automakers including Ford, Mazda, BMW and Mercedes after a death involving a Takata airbag in a Ford Ranger was reported.  

“It would be great if NHTSA would make a determination on the existing petitions from GM on whether they can be exempted because until they do consumers are being left wondering when the potential ticking time bomb in their car will explode," Levine said Thursday.