European cars added as Takata airbag recall tops 4 million
UP TO 1 million cars are expected to be added to the recall of more than 3 million vehicles in Australia to replace potentially deadly airbags that have so far claimed one life and seriously injured another driver.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has made a formal recommendation to the Federal Government to issue a compulsory recall for a range of European vehicles that have so far been excluded from the Takata crisis.
Brands such as Audi and Volkswagen as well as certain European sourced models from Ford and Holden are understood to be affected.
Industry estimates say this would equate to between 800,000 and 1 million cars locally, bringing the tally to in excess of 4 million.
Previous Takata airbag recalls have involved components assembled in Mexico, Japan and Thailand but the new round of recalls would take in certain Takata airbags made in Germany.
Some sections of the car industry are fighting the new round of recalls because they claim there is no evidence that the German sourced Takata airbags are faulty.
However there have been reports of six German Takata airbags "rupturing" between August 2016 and May 2017, in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.
According to overseas reports there have so far been 23 deaths and more than 230 serious injuries worldwide attributed to Takata airbags that can spray shrapnel when deployed in a crash.
The explosive material inside the faulty airbags can deteriorate and become unstable over time, particularly in humid climates.
Documents seen by News Corp Australia claim 1.7 million cars on Australia roads have been fixed so far, there are more than 1 million cars waiting for replacement parts to arrive, and a further 1.3 million - including the 800,000 to 1 million European cars - are expected to be added in the coming months.
A statement from the ACCC said: "The ACCC has provided a final recommendation on the proposed compulsory recall for defective Takata airbags to the Minister with responsibility for consumer affairs, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar MP".
A spokeswoman from the ACCC said the minister "will announce his decision on the matter in due course once he has had time to fully consider the ACCC's recommendation".
In the meantime the ACCC urged motorists to visit productsafety.gov.au to check if their car has been recalled and, if it has, to contact their dealer or manufacturer to have unsafe Takata airbags replaced free of charge.
Last year the ACCC put forward a proposal to make the recalls compulsory, following reports of owners ignoring the notices. Some car brands have hired private investigators to track down cars.
However, the ACCC is yet to outline what the punishment would be if cars were not fixed, and whether car companies or car owners would be fined.
There was a proposal to not allow affected cars to have their registrations renewed until the recall work was completed, but the ACCC has no power over state transport authorities to enforce this action.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling