Safety and service recalls are a fact of life for the automotive industry, but the scale of the recent announcement for Takata’s airbags is unique. In the US, 34 million cars are being recalled, and globally since 2008 more than 53 million cars have been recalled due to the defective airbag inflators, perhaps the largest ever recall in consumer history.
The safety concerns are warranted, since there have been a number of fatalities caused by the airbag inflator exploding with too high pressure, spraying metal shrapnel into the vehicle. It is suspected that moisture seeping into the inflators may be to blame.
GCC vehicle brands have announced recalls, and since the fault most affects vehicles in humid climates, these will be necessary to ensure peace of mind for vehicle owners. It’s worth remembering that during the recall the inflator will be tested, and if found faulty will be replaced, but many will be working fine.
For the company at the centre of the recall, Takata, this means inestimable damage to their reputation, as well as the multi-billion dollar cost of replacing the defective parts. But it is arguably the vehicle brands on the consumer front-line that have the most to lose, since consumer decisions are emotive and can be affected by bad news.
One consolation is that the recall affects up to 11 different brands, so no one single company will be affected. The other consolation will be higher service traffic for dealers, providing a chance to upsell service and reconnect with their customers. Not, however, in the way they would have wanted.