General Motors seeks to avoid Takata recalls

Associated Press


For the third time in the past three years, General Motors has asked the U.S. government for permission to avoid recalls of potentially deadly Takata air-bag inflators.

The company disclosed its third petition to escape the recalls Tuesday in a filing with securities regulators . The financial stakes are high. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lets GM out of the recalls, the company says it could save $1 billion and avoid recalling up to 6.8 million full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from the 2007 to 2011 model years.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 22 people have been killed worldwide, and more than 180 injured. The problem forced the Japanese company into bankruptcy protection and touched off the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history. Takata has agreed to recall up to 69 million inflators in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate air bags. But high humidity and high temperatures can cause the chemical to deteriorate and burn too fast, blowing apart metal canisters designed to contain the explosion.

In its annual report posted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, GM said it filed recall paperwork and a petition to avoid the recalls with NHTSA on Jan. 9.

In the filing, GM says the front-passenger inflators were custom-made for its trucks by Takata with bigger vents and stronger steel end caps than other inflators. No truck inflators have blown apart on roads or in extensive laboratory testing, the company says.

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