A Tennessee-based company, ARC Automotive, has refused to recall 67 million air bag inflators, despite a request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to do so. After an eight-year investigation, the NHTSA concluded the ARC inflators have a safety defect that creates an unreasonable risk of death and injury.
The NHTSA agency demanded ARC recall the inflators because they could explode and spread shrapnel throughout the passenger compartment. The company argued the recall demand exceeds the agency’s legal authority and auto manufacturers, not equipment manufacturers like ARC, must do recalls. It appears the company could be heading for a legal battle with auto safety regulators.
ARC’s rejection of the recall means the NHTSA might arrange a public hearing and file a lawsuit to compel the company to issue a recall. Consequently, the company may face legal penalties and be obligated to provide compensation or pay fines to individuals affected by faulty airbag inflators. Penalties for violating federal safety regulations may include fines, imprisonment and civil penalties. The specific penalties would depend on the nature and severity of the violation and the applicable federal and state laws. Many experts believe ARC is simply on the wrong side of public relations and automotive history.
Fighting a safety recall is the worst-case scenario when it comes to public relations. In 2019, the now-defunct Takata Corp. was responsible for the largest recall in automotive history. The Takata recall began in 2008 when reports of airbag ruptures and injuries emerged. Takata, a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer, supplied faulty airbag inflators to numerous automobile manufacturers, including Honda, Toyota, Ford, General Motors, BMW and others. Initially, the recall was limited to specific regions with high humidity, such as Gulf Coast states. However, it later expanded to include vehicles worldwide due to concerns about the long-term safety of the affected airbags.
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