- NSW government will not re-register Takata 'alpha' airbag equipped cars
- More than 1600 cars affected
- Two people in Australia have been killed by Takata alpha airbag
- More than 25 million cars affected by Takata airbag recall worldwide
The owners of up to 1600 cars will not have their NSW registration renewed, as the NSW government joins the fight to find and destroy the last of Japanese company Takata’s so-called ‘alpha’ airbags.
The Takata airbag recall is the biggest such recall in the history of the automotive industry, with millions of dollars spent by every car company to track down and replace Takata-branded airbag inflators.
Takata is – or was – the world’s biggest producer of airbags, but a series of deaths in the US revealed a frightening fault with older airbags.
The airbag’s detonator charge had deteriorated over time, and there is a 50:50 chance that the detonator will explode unpredictably if the car is in an accident severe enough to set off the bag.
The resulting uncontrolled explosion can rip apart the metal ignition barrel, firing shards of metal at subsonic speeds into the face and torso of the driver or passenger. It is responsible for two deaths in Australia and more than 20 overseas.
Companies including Holden, Ford, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and many more have outlaid millions of dollars and thousands of hours in tracking down cars fitted with the faulty airbags in Australia.
However, after a program of mailouts, phone calls and even door-knocking, at least 1600 cars with the deadly alpha bags remain unaccounted for in NSW.
“The NSW Government supports the nationwide compulsory Takata Airbag recall and, for safety reasons, has made an amendment to the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2017, meaning those who have not had faulty Takata airbags replaced could risk suspension of their vehicle’s registration,” reads a statement from the Roads and Maritime Services.
If a vehicle registration is suspended, it is against the law for the vehicle to be driven or for another person to drive the vehicle, meaning:
- the vehicle’s registration cannot be renewed until the airbag is replaced
- the vehicle cannot be sold
- the vehicle cannot be transferred to another owner.
Honda Australia managing director Stephen Collins said last year that it was critical that the remaining outstanding customer cars are taken to car dealerships. “These vehicles still have potentially dangerous airbags in them that can cause serious injury or even death in an accident if the airbag deploys incorrectly,” Mr Collins said.
As an example, Honda has sent more than 1.5 million pieces of correspondence in relation to its airbag recall, including messaging on social media, door knocks, multiple letters to known addresses and the establishment of a call centre.
Still another million cars to find
The registration suspension action only applies to the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) of those 1600 NSW-registered cars. However, there are still more than one million cars on Australian roads with potentially deadly ‘beta’ Takata airbags fitted, which are also under recall.
Car companies are now calling for the registration ban – which kicked off in South Australia last September – to be extended to beta airbag-equipped cars, with some industry officials fearing that the spotlight on alpha Takata airbags – which have a one-in-two chance of exploding – is taking the emphasis away from beta bags, which have a one per cent chance of incorrectly deploying.
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