The USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will expand its investigations into airbag inflator units after the death of a motorist in Canada last month was linked to one of the devices.
Unlike previous airbag inflator-related deaths however, which have been linked mostly to Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata, the most-recent incident involved an inflator from ARC Automotive.
Takata’s airbag inflator woes have been well-documented since it became apparent that the inflator casings may rupture as the airbag deploys during a collision.
The result of a failed airbag inflator is a shower of metal fragments which may strike occupants in the cabin, resulting in injury or even death. Fifteen deaths have been linked to failed Takata airbag inflators to date.
As the latest incident involved a manufacturer other than Takata, the NHTSA, along with Canadian authorities, has taken a broader approach to its airbag investigations.
Around eight million vehicles will be scrutinised by the NHTSA, and industry paper Automotive News reports that 2004 will be a key model-year.
Early data suggests the ARC design differs significantly to that of Takata, but injuries to motorists in the US last year driving 2002 and 2004 model Chrysler and Kia vehicles respectively also involved ARC inflators.
The ARC inflators have been used in numerous models from Kia, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and others, along with Hyundai - which was reportedly the make (a 2009 Hyundai Elantra) driven by the deceased Canadian motorist at the time of their death.
All carmakers in the US with ARC inflators are said to be offering the NHTSA their full cooperation.
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