Vehicle Safety
October 14, 2016

U.S. Authorities Investigate ARC Airbag Inflators; Warns Noncompliance Will Lead to Fines

Airbag Recalls, Product Safety Recalls

Vehicle Safety: Authorities Investigate ARC Automotive

ARC Automotive Inc., a manufacturer of airbag inflators in the United States, has been accused of concealing critical information and refusing to cooperate in an investigation by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The incident being investigated occurred on July 8th in Newfoundland, Canada, when a woman driving a Hyundai Elantra was in a car accident that ended her life. Official accounts report that the women would have survived the crash if not for the shrapnel that shot into her from out of a defunct ARC airbag inflator.

The NHTSA has also accused ARC of failing to report the accident, which is against the law, and for not reporting a recent Toyota recall that was triggered by faulty ARC parts. The NHTSA has estimated there may be up to 8 million ARC inflators in cars sold by Hyundai, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Kia in the United States. In July 2015, the NHTSA began investigating ARC Automotive for a 2009 airbag inflator rupture in Ohio that injured a driver, but a recall was not made at that time.

Unrelated – But Similar to Takata Airbag Recalls

The inquiry into ARC airbag inflators is unconnected to the 69 million Takata inflators that have been recalled, but there are similarities. Both Takata and ARC inflators have allegedly projected shrapnel into the driver or passenger when deployed, sometimes fatally. In addition, both companies have been evasive with the NHTSA and are willing to pay fines instead of cooperating with them. Takata paid $70 million to the NHTSA for not aiding in their investigation and now ARC Automotive has been informed that they will soon incur a $21,000 per day fine, up to $105 million, if they do not begin to assist in their investigation.

“Instead of noting the serious nature of these incidents earlier this year and committing to work with NHTSA to determine the appropriate range of issues at hand,” wrote Michael Brown, a director at the NHTSA, “ARC’s counsel stated that they had no obligation to provide such information and chastised agency staff for indicating otherwise.”

Officials from the U.S., Canada, and Hyundai do not yet know why the ARC inflator malfunctioned in Newfoundland, but they need to understand if that lethal incident could be a sign of more to come, so they can act.

The ARC Automotive Inc. has not made their job very easy.