GM Seeks One-Year Delay in Recalling 980,000 Takata Airbags

  • Automaker says tests show the airbags pose less risk
  • No ruptures found in thousands of deployments, GM says

General Motors Co. is asking U.S. safety regulators to delay by a year the mandatory recall of almost 1 million vehicles with airbags made by Takata Corp., saying the designated models have not been shown to carry the same risk as others linked to deaths and injuries.

The automaker said in a filing Friday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it has conducted tests on the inflators and concluded they are "not currently at risk of rupture." Of 44,000 deployments of Takata airbags in the group, none ruptured, according to the company.

It cited "unique design features" that makes the covered airbags safer. The automaker said it has hired an expert to conduct a long-term aging study of the inflators that will take about a year to conclude.

“GM shares with NHTSA a strong commitment to customer safety,” the Detroit-based automaker said in an e-mailed statement. “GM is taking a systematic, engineering-based approach to better understanding the performance of Takata inflators installed in GM vehicles, and GM continues to share this information with NHTSA on a regular basis.”

Pickups, SUVs

The agency has ordered that all vehicles with air-bag inflators that use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a desiccant be recalled. GM wants to push back the recall of the 980,000 full-size pickups and sport utility vehicles, scheduled for the end of this year, to the end of 2017.

The consent order Takata signed with NHTSA includes a provision in which an automaker can seek to alter the schedule of recalls, which was established to get the riskiest inflators off the road first.

Publication of the request in the Federal Register begins a 14-day comment period.

Almost 70 million Takata airbag inflators are scheduled for replacement between now and 2019, the largest and most complex auto-safety recall in U.S. history. NHTSA has identified a combination of time, exposure to moisture and fluctuating high temperatures as the highest risks in making ammonium nitrate unstable. When Takata inflators have exploded with too much force, drivers have been killed by shrapnel.

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