DETROIT (AP) – General Motors will recall about 7 million large pickup trucks and SUVs worldwide to replace potentially dangerous Takata airbag inflators.
The move came on Monday after the US government told the carmaker it had to recall 6 million vehicles in the United States.
The withdrawal will cost the Detroit-based carmaker about $ 1.2 billion, about a third of net income so far this year.
GM says it will not fight the recall, although it believes the vehicles are safe.
The carmaker has petitioned the agency four times, starting in 2016, to avoid recall, arguing that the airbag inflator canister is safe on the road and in testing. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday rejected the petitions, saying the inflators were still at risk of exploding.
Owners who commented to NHTSA said the company was making a profit on security.
The exploding Takata inflators caused the largest series of auto-calls in US history, with at least 63 million inflated retreats. The US government says that as of September, more than 11.1 million had not been repaired. About 100 million inflators have been withdrawn worldwide.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to fill the air bags in the crash. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity and explode with too much force, blowing up a metal canister and throwing out shrapnel.
Twenty-seven people have been killed worldwide by explosive devices, including 18 in the United States.
The recall includes full-size pickup trucks and SUVs from 2007 to 2014, including Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups. The Silverado is GM’s best-selling vehicle and the second best-selling vehicle in the United States. Also included is the Chevrolet Subarban, Tahoe and Avalanche, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 and 3500 and GMC Yukon.
It took the agency more than four years to make its decision, which comes at the end of President Donald Trump’s four-year term.
NHTSA said in a statement that it was analyzing all available airbag data, including engineering and statistical analysis, aging tests and field data.
“Based on this information and the information submitted to the public outlet of the petition, NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question were at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as the other Takata retracted inflators,” the agency said.
The company has 30 days to submit to NHTSA a proposed timetable for notifying vehicle owners and initiating a withdrawal, the statement said.
GM said that although it believed the withdrawal was not justified on the basis of factual and scientific evidence, it would respect the NHTSA decision.
GM spokesman Dan Flores said Monday that none of the inflators had exploded in the field or in laboratory tests. But he said GM did not want an exhausted fight with the government.
“While we are confident that the inflatables in the GMT900 vehicles do not pose an unreasonable safety risk, they will continue to function as designed in the field and will continue to operate as designed in accordance with the results of our Accelerated Aging Studies. We will adhere to “NHTSA ‘s decision to maintain the trust and confidence of customers and regulators,” he said in an email.
The decision means that all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators in the United States will be withdrawn, the NHTSA said. Earlier this year, the agency decided not to require the withdrawal of inflators with a moisture-absorbing chemical called desiccant. But NHTSA said it would monitor those inflators and take action if a problem arose.
In a petition to the NHTSA for 2019, GM said the inflators were designed to its specifications and were safe, without explosions, although nearly 67,000 air bags were deployed on the ground.
But Takata declared GM passenger inflators defective under a 2015 deal with the government.
In its petition, GM said Northrop Grumman tested 4,270 inflators with artificial exposure to additional humidity and temperature cycle and there were no explosions or abnormal deployments. GM is said to have “determined that exposure to moisture in the worst case and cycling at room temperature will not cause the inflator to stop … at any time even in unrealistically conservative estimates of vehicle service life”.
GM shares rose nearly 3% in trading on Monday to $ 44.16.
Drivers can check if their vehicles have been towed by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering their 17-digit vehicle registration number.
The withdrawal led to the bankruptcy of the Japanese “Takata” and filed criminal charges against the company. It was eventually bought by a Chinese-owned auto parts supplier.