The NHTSA is forcing General Motors to recall nearly 6 million full-size SUVs and pickup trucks equipped with Takata airbag inflators, the regulator announced on Monday.
The order comes after four years of GM insisting that its airbag inflators were safe, even as the rest of the industry roiled with the largest automotive recall in history. More than 63 million airbags have been recalled from every major automaker spanning more than a decade of model years.
In a statement published by the Associated Press, the NHTSA said it "concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators."
The faulty airbags produced by the supplier Takata could dry out and, when deployed in a crash, emit metal fragments like shrapnel in the face and chest of victims. At least 27 people worldwide including 18 in the U.S. have been killed due to the defect, with hundreds more injured. In the wake of the massive recall that still reverberated earlier in 2020 with huge recalls from Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, Takata went bankrupt and the auto industry spent billions on repairs.
The recall of some 2007-2014 Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs, as well as Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks will cost GM an estimated $1.2 billion, according to Automotive News. Exact model years have not been released yet.
In a statement issued Monday, General Motors said: "Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question. Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA’s position. However, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps."
Prior to this recall, GM had recalled limited numbers of vehicles for the Takata airbag issue, totaling less than 800,000 units. The 2007-2008 Silverado and Sierra HD trucks were recalled, as were certain models of the Pontiac Vibe, Saturn Astra, and Saab 9-2X, 9-3, and 9-5.