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.


Porsche could build flying taxis, says sales chief

Porsche logo. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 April 2018
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Porsche could build flying taxis, says sales chief

FRANKFURT: Volkswagen’s sports car maker Porsche could develop a flying passenger vehicle to compete with rivals in a possible market for urban air taxis and ride-sharing services, Porsche sales chief Detlev von Platen told a German magazine.
“That would really make sense. If I drive from (the Porsche plant in) Zuffenhausen to Stuttgart airport, I need at least half an hour, if I’m lucky. Flying would take only three and a half minutes,” Automobilwoche quoted von Platen as saying.
Porsche would join a raft of companies working on designs for flying cars in anticipation of a shift in the transport market away from conventional cars to self-driving vehicles shared via ride-hailing apps.
Volkswagen’s auto designer Italdesign and Airbus at last year’s Geneva auto show presented a two-seater flying car, called Pop.Up, designed to avoid gridlock on city roads.
The magazine said that under Porsche’s plans, passengers would be able to have some control over the flying vehicle themselves but would not need a pilot license because many of the car’s functions would be automated.
Potential competitors to a flying vehicle made by Porsche would be German start-ups Volocopter, backed by Daimler , Lilium Jet and eVolo, as well as US-based Terrafugia and California-based Joby Aviation.