SYDNEY – The Australian government issued a compulsory recall Wednesday of more than 2 million vehicles fitted with defective air bags made by Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp., following an investigation by the country’s consumer watchdog.
At least 23 deaths and over 230 serious injuries have been linked to defective Takata air bags worldwide, according to the Australian government.
Speaking at a news conference in Canberra, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the recall of 2.3 million vehicles is the “largest and most significant recall in the nation’s history.”
“The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers to ensure that all dangerous Takata air bags are located and replaced as quickly as possible,” he said.
Sukkar said the decision was based on a recommendation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission following an extensive safety investigation.
Speaking at the same news conference, the commission’s chairman Rod Sims stressed that not all Takata air bags are dangerous “right now.”
“Whether an air bag is dangerous depends completely on the age of the vehicle and the climatic conditions within which it’s driven,” he said.
According to Sims, the drying agent and design of faulty Takata air bags allows moisture to seep in, causing the propellant to ignite too quickly. This ruptures the air bag inflator, causing sharp metal fragments to shoot out and potentially hit vehicle occupants.
Sukkar said all defective air bags will need to be replaced by Dec. 31, 2020, with priority given to replacing the roughly 25,000 Alpha model air bags still on Australian roads which pose an “immediate and critical safety risk.”
In Australia, a 58-year-old Sydney man was killed in a collision in July last year after a faulty Takata airbag exploded in his Honda CRV.