Australia announced the compulsory recall of 2.3 million vehicles today due to problems with faulty Takata airbags that have caused at least 23 deaths worldwide. The government intervention -- one of the country's biggest ever consumer recalls -- follows consultations with affected manufacturers and industry stakeholders.
It affects vehicles made by Ford, GM Holden, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda. Similar action has taken place around the world. "The compulsory recall will capture approximately 2.3 million vehicles that still have a defective airbag that needs replacement," said assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar.
"Absolute priority will be given to replacing alpha airbags, which pose an immediate and critical safety risk." Given the scale of the task, suppliers have until the end of December 2020 to progressively replace all defective airbags made by the Japanese group. A total of four million vehicles in Australia are affected.
Some have already been voluntarily recalled by manufacturers, with today's action concerning those that have yet to be fixed. An investigation by Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission found that Takata airbag inflators without a desiccant -- a drying agent -- or with a calcium sulphate desiccant had a design flaw. It said that over time the ammonium nitrate propellant could degrade, potentially leading to the airbags being deployed in error.
Worldwide at least 23 deaths and more than 230 serious injuries have been reported in connection with the Takata airbags, Sukkar said, with a man killed in Australia last year. In total, at least 100 million units across all car manufacturers have been affected globally.