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Edward Niedermeyer

Deadly Cars Shouldn't Be a Business Opportunity

People weigh the costs of Takata airbags against a trip to the dealer.

After a 17-year-old Texas woman became the 10th American killed by exploding Takata airbags last month, it was revealed that while the vehicle had been recalled, it had never been taken in for repair. This is tragic but not surprising: Only about a third of the nearly 29 million recalled Takata airbags have actually been replaced.

This frustrating trend goes well beyond airbags. A year and a half after recalling a decade-old ignition-switch defect linked to the deaths of 124 people, GM had still only repaired 70 percent of the devices. Despite offering customers gift cards to Starbucks and Bass Pro Shops as inducements, GM did worse than the industry's 75 percent average recall repair rate after 18 months.