2016 was dominated by some pretty major headlines: Brexit, Trump, Bowie/Prince/Zsa Zsa. In fact, it was so full of Big News that many folks are already looking forward to a kinder, gentler 2017.
According to one Swedish auto parts supplier, though, the new year may be anything but quiet. In fact, issues with Autoliv's airbags and seatbelts could necessitate repairs for hundreds of thousands of cars around the globe.
The good news is, even if the number of vehicles affected reaches 400,000--the worst-case scenario projected by Autoliv--that figure pales in comparison to General Motors' ignition switch recall, which affected some 2.6 million vehicles. And it's far, far lower than the number of cars affected by Takata's airbag fiasco, the biggest recall in history, with 29 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. alone. It also fails far short of Volkswagen's Dieselgate crisis, which affects some 550,000 cars in the U.S. and roughly 10.5 million in other countries.
The bad news is, Autoliv's potential recalls affect seatbelts and airbags, two key safety components. Problems with those devices can pose far greater immediate risks to vehicle occupants than, say, lyin', cheatin' diesel engines.
In one instance, Autoliv says that a portion of its seatbelt pretensioner (which helps restrain occupants during collisions) may detach in a crash, becoming a projectile in the vehicle. In another case, the company says that the pretensioners and airbags may fail to activate during collisions. Yikes.
In other words, the number of cars affected by Autoliv recalls may not match those of other major crises, but the urgency of the recalls could be just as great--if not greater.
Autoliv products are found in roughly 1,300 models around the globe. The parts in question were manufactured between April 10 and October 15, 2016. Thankfully, reports of part failures have come from internal tests, not from owners--as of today, anyway.
Expect more details on this emerging crisis in the coming weeks. We'll keep you posted.