(Adds Delphi filing, background on other air bag defects, NHTSA
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Sept 9 General Motors Co said
on Friday it will recall nearly 4.3 million vehicles worldwide
to fix a software defect that can prevent air bags from
deploying during a crash, a flaw already linked to one death and
GM's action marked the latest large air bag-related recall
in recent years by leading automakers, including a record
earlier recall involving Takata Corp air bags and
investigations into millions of vehicles this year involving two
other air bag system suppliers.
GM, the world's No. 3 automaker, said the latest recall
involved trucks, cars and SUVs from the 2014 to 2017 model
years, including some models of the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet
Corvette, Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban and
Silverado HD and Cadillac Escalade.
Despite the rash of problems with air bags in recent years,
a spokesman for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration sought to reassure motorists about the devices,
saying "air bags save lives." The agency estimates that frontal
air bags saved 2,400 lives in the United States in 2014, the
most recent year for which figures were available.
The NHTSA said in a notice posted on Friday that under
certain driving conditions the air bag system would launch a
diagnostic test that would prevent the air bag from deploying in
the event of a crash. GM said the software defect would prevent
deployment under certain "rare circumstances."
GM stock fell on the news and was trading down $1.18 to
$30.53, down 3.7 percent on Friday. The company said the recall
would not have a material impact on its financial results.
Delphi Automotive PLC said in a securities filing
on Friday that it supplied sensors and modules for the air bags
but suggested it was not to blame, saying they were "in
compliance with GM's product specifications and validation
Delphi said it does not expect "the cost, if any, of this
recall would be material to our financial position." Delphi fell
on the news, off 3.6 percent to $68.10.
GM said it received a report in May of a crash involving a
2014 Chevrolet Silverado truck in which the driver's frontal air
bag and seat belt equipment called pretensioners did not deploy.
GM opened an investigation into the issue in June and
conducted road testing in August before deciding on a recall.
The company said its dealers will update vehicle software to
prevent future air bag and pretensioner nondeployments.
PREVIOUS GM RECALL
GM has faced other air bag issues in recent years. In 2014,
GM recalled nearly 2.6 million vehicles because of an
ignition-switch defect that prevented air bags from deploying in
some crashes. GM's independent fund set up to compensate victims
awarded $594.5 million and approved 124 death and 275 injury
claims in connection with that recall.
In July, GM said the NHTSA may force it to recall another
4.3 million vehicles for Takata air bag inflators, a call-back
that would cost the U.S. automaker $550 million. GM earlier this
year recalled 2.5 million vehicles for Takata inflators.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said the automaker is still in
discussion with NHTSA about the issue.
In February, Continental Automotive Systems said
it supplied potentially defective air bag control units to 5
million vehicles built over a five-year period worldwide. In
August, the NHTSA said it was upgrading and expanding a probe of
more than 8 million air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive Inc
after a driver was killed in Canada when an inflator ruptured in
a Hyundai vehicle.
Separately, the NHTSA and a number of global automakers are
working to replace as many as 100 million defective air bag
inflators worldwide by 14 automakers that have been linked to at
least 14 deaths and 100 injuries.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Joseph White and