In May 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wrote a letter to 12 major automakers, warning them that they had not met the December 2017 deadline for completing repairs in high-risk areas – such as Florida – that experience more humidity and heat fluctuations than other areas. The manufacturers included Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford. The targeted automakers had collectively replaced 65 percent of the affected airbags, leaving about 7 million dangerous airbags on the road. NHTSA wanted to meet with each manufacturer to discuss the slow progress.
The Takata recall is the biggest automotive recall in U.S. history. More than 37 million vehicles containing 50 million Takata airbags have so far been recalled by 19 automakers, with more recalls expected by the end of the year. In 2015, NHTSA created a Coordinated Remedy program, giving itself oversight over the Takata recalls. Under that program, airbag recalls are issued according to geographical region and age – vehicles in Zone A, the most humid and hot states, are to be recalled sooner than vehicles of the same age in Zone B, for less humid states, and Zone C, for least humid states. All vehicles containing original Takata airbags must be recalled by December 31, 2018, while all vehicles that received a Takata airbag as a replacement must be recalled again by December 31, 2019.
At the same time, NHTSA has designated 12 Priority Groups as a time table for when the automakers must have sufficient replacements ready after they issue a recall. The Priority Groups are based not just on geographical location and age but also on whether it is a driver-side or passenger-side inflator, or both, and when the recall went into effect. Several automakers have requested extensions on the deadlines for supplying a sufficient amount of replacements for certain vehicles, often arguing they have been unable to develop, test, and manufacture replacements that will function the same.
The vehicles that were supposed to have their airbags replaced by December 31, 2017 were in Priority Group 7 – vehicles recalled by January 2017 that are in Zone A, which was vehicles made in 2013 or older. That means the 12 automakers took longer than a year to supply enough replacement inflators for vehicles in the most dangerous climates, completing only a combined 65% of the replacements.
In July 2018, NHTSA followed up the letter with an announcement urging all automakers involved in the recalls to publicize on their websites their plans for replacing all defective airbags and be innovative in their efforts to reach owners. NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said, “To keep consumers safe in their cars and trucks, automakers should learn from their recall experiences to-date and from one another, and innovate broadly and creatively when crafting plans to better engage with consumers and communities to replace every last defective air bag in their vehicles.”
If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the victim of a defective airbag, call the Takata airbag recall lawsuit lawyers at Newsome Melton. We are standing by at 888-808-5977 to set up your free consultation.