The enormous Takata airbag recall could take a more wide-reaching form in 2020, with more than 500,000 cars under threat of de-registration across Australia.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), which is coordinating the recall across all affected brands, is calling for all states and territories to consider the de-registering of vehicles fitted with the so-called Takata ‘beta’ airbag, if their owners have not presented for recall remedy.
The deadline to process all Takata airbag recalls has been set as December 2020.
De-registering cars fitted with the most dangerous ‘alpha’ bags is already underway in almost every state and territory in Australia, though NSW and Victoria are not yet to go down that path.
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“These people have had the opportunity to respond to the campaign and haven't done it, those airbags in those vehicles need to be replaced and the only way we can successfully do this is through the support of the ACCC and the state and territory governments and de-registration,” FCAI chairman Tony Weber told a media gathering in Melbourne.
“We all know this is a serious issue,” he said. “Hundred million people worldwide, 26 fatalities worldwide, and over 300 people seriously injured. We always knew that we had to do something. And we've done a lot.”
Weber said that from three million affected vehicles, some 2.28 million cars have been rectified. Of those, 5400 cars with the extremely dangerous and unstable Takata bag – which, if deployed, could shoot metal fragments at supersonic speeds into the face and torso of the occupant – are still unaccounted for.
“We've phoned them, we've knocked on their doors, we're sending them letters, we're sending them SMSs, and they refuse to come in,” said Weber. “Those people have to be addressed.”
These cars will not be re-registered once their rego falls due. However, Weber said that owners of cars with the less unstable but no less deadly beta airbags will suffer the same consequence next year, if discussions with the ACCC are successful.
“That’s something we’re talking about with the ACCC and through them the states and territories,” said Weber. “We recognise that this isn’t the right point in time but it won’t be long before we’re into 2020, and that will have to have to happen if we are going to get these vehicles off the road by the end of December 2020.
A new advertising campaign is being rolled out in regional and lower social-economic areas in order to try and capture the last of the hold-outs, but Weber believes that de-registration of beta bag-equipped cars will be approved at a state and federal level.
“This is the first time that a recall has been made mandatory in this country, but it’s a substantial public health issue,” he said. “If we need to address it – and we do – deregistration is the only way we are going to get that universal approach that is needed.”
Head to www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au to find out your car’s status, or check by texting TAKATA to 0487 AIRBAG (247 224).