Australia issues compulsory recall of Takata air bags

The logo of Takata Corp is seen on its display at a wroom for vehicles in Tokyo, Japan, in this February 9, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 28 February 2018
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Australia issues compulsory recall of Takata air bags

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia on Wednesday issued a compulsory recall for all 2.7 million cars fitted with defective Takata air bags in an effort to lift the auto industry’s mixed efforts to fix the fault blamed for at least 23 deaths around the world.
Vehicle suppliers must recall and replace all the air bags in Australia by the end of 2020, with priority given to the most dangerous because of their design, age or the level of humidity in their environment, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said.
“Tragically there has been one death and one case of serious injury in Australia as a result of the deployment of these air bags and the government just doesn’t want to see any more,” Sukkar told reporters.
Takata’s air bag problem has resulted in 100 million recalls worldwide and forced the Japanese company into bankruptcy protection.
Sukkar said the problem was considered acute in northern Australia due to its humid and hot climate. Such conditions are a known factor in the deaths blamed on the faulty air bags, which have occurred mainly in the summer in the southern United States and in tropical Malaysia.
The chemical propellant in the air bag inflators can deteriorate in hot, humid conditions and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister and creating shrapnel.
While some manufacturers had recalled more than 80 percent of the air bags in Australia, some were as low as 36 percent.
Under the compulsory recall order, the government will be able to name manufacturers who are falling behind from July. Failure to comply with the order carries a potential fine of 1.1 million Australian dollars ($860,000) per breach.
“One of the concerns has been the divergence we’ve seen among manufacturers as to how actively they’ve sought to notify ... consumers with potential problems with their air bags,” Sukkar said.
“As far as reluctance goes, again it’s been very much a mixed bag. If you look at some of the manufacturers, they really use best endeavors. There are other manufacturers who didn’t show the same diligence,” he added.
Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the consumer watchdog that recommended the recall, said some manufacturers within the voluntary recall have done a bad job.
“They’ve been slow to communicate, slow to get the parts in and slow to replace air bags and sometimes said things to consumers that were unfortunate, like: ‘Come back in a year’s time and, by the way, in the meantime don’t drive the car,’” Sims said.
National Roads and Motorists’ Association spokesman Peter Khoury, an Australian motorists advocate, said the compulsory recall was long overdue.
“This recall has been going on for a number of years, it’s clearly too long and it is absolutely vital that we get these car fixed by the deadline set by the Australian government at the end of 2020, but certainly preferably well before that,” Khoury said .
“It has absolutely taken far too long to reach this stage. When you have air bags killing people globally, that is something that needs to be addressed immediately,” he added.


Tesla production leader Doug Field exits company

Tesla produced 5,000 of its Model 3 cars, along with a combined total of 2,000 Model S and Model X vehicles. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2018
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Tesla production leader Doug Field exits company

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla on Monday confirmed that the head of Model 3 production, who went on leave after chief executive Elon Musk took over his duties, will not be returning.
The departure of engineering senior vice president Doug Field came as California-based Tesla appeared to have finally hit a self-imposed goal of cranking out 5,000 Model 3 electric cars in a week.
Tesla co-founder Musk fired off a Twitter post over the weekend saying “7,000 cars, 7 days.”
In a note to investors on Monday, Analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities said that in the preceding week, Tesla produced 5,000 of its Model 3 cars, along with a combined total of 2,000 Model S and Model X vehicles.
Tesla has been under pressure to increase production to show it can operate profitably and at the kind of scale needed to be considered a major auto company.
Musk has been managing the Tesla production line, which has been rejiggered to pump out cars faster.
Field will not be returning to the company, according to Tesla.
“After almost five years at Tesla, Doug Field is moving on,” a company spokesman told AFP.
“We’d like to thank Doug for his hard work over the years and for everything he has done for Tesla.”
Tesla announced in June that it was cutting nine percent of its workforce to enhance profitability, but said the move would not affect an ambitious production ramp-up of its Model 3 sedan.
The job cuts are part of a company-wide restructuring to address excess staff in some areas due to the company’s speedy growth, Musk said in an email to employees.
The cuts concern salaried staff but not production workers and will not affect Model 3 output targets, said Musk, who characterized the downsizing as an acknowledgement of the need to focus more on costs.
“Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us,” Musk said in the message.
“What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable.”
Shares of Tesla closed the formal trading day down 2.3 percent to $335.07 but regained some of that ground in after-market trades.