The point of a vehicle’s airbag is to protect the driver and passengers inside, but in a cruel and unusual twist that resulted in thousands of recalls, the airbags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata (and installed in millions of American cars) actually spew out metal shards upon release.
A total of 10 automotive manufacturers in the U.S. have had to issue recalls for the airbags, after the airbags were linked to two deaths and a handful of injuries, which could have been prevented if the airbags hadn’t showered passengers with jagged metal pieces.
For anyone doubting the severity of the airbag-related injuries, Automotive News refers to one of the deaths, in which a Florida woman had such severe cuts on her neck after a fender bender that the police on the scene initially believed her death to be a homicide.
It’s clear that this problem isn’t limited to just one manufacturer — 10 major companies, including Nissan, Toyota, and General Motors, had to issue recalls which have amounted to about eight million collectively in the U.S. so far.
It was only a matter of time before these manufacturers decided to speak out about the incident, and it seems that Nissan’s chief executive officer, Carlos Ghosn, has offered the most honest account of what’s happening. Ghosn explained, during a recent interview in Shanghai, that the recalls are meant to protect consumers, and that the manufacturers are aware of the inconveniences caused by recalls.
But speaking more generally about the 10 affected manufacturers, Ghosn stated that “everyone is particularly focused on the fact that they are fighting so hard to get the consumer for their brand, so they don’t want to lose him [the consumer] for a quality problem.”
Although Ghosn didn’t directly address how the recalls would affect Nissan, his statements make it clear that the widespread recalls aren’t meant to instill fear or doubt among American consumers; instead, car manufacturers are willing to acknowledge the faulty airbags and pay for replacements, rather than leave consumers at risk.
One thing is clear: while the blame for the faulty airbags will have to lie on someone’s shoulders, the American automotive industry should not be held entirely responsible. Every part of the industry has been taking action: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been dedicating a great deal of resources into investigating this problem, and even local car dealerships are helping customers with repairs.
“Our customer safety is our major concern. Nissan is working diligently to resolve this matter. In fact, letters are going out to Nissan owners at this time. As in times past, we will work in an acceptable fashion to correct this situation.” Robbie Thomas, Service Director at Hudiburg Nissan.
It’s obvious that these measures are all reactive, and not proactive — but considering the circumstances, the U.S. auto industry is handling the situation fairly well. Ideally, this sort of scare won’t happen again, but until then, consumers are urged to check the list of affected cars and to bring their vehicles in for inspection and repairs if necessary.