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Takata incidents prompt urgent BMW recall

Hidden danger: The discovery of a new kind of potentially deadly Takata airbag could extend the huge worldwide recall that already embroils millions of vehicles.

New Takata airbag type linked to death, BMW begs E46 owners to stop using their cars

8 Nov 2019

A NEW type of Takata airbag not previously embroiled in the global recall scandal is suspected to have caused one death and one serious injury in Australia, prompting BMW to voluntarily recall more than 12,000 cars here and ask owners to stop using them immediately.


Owners of 12,663 E46 3 Series sedans and coupes sold between 1997 and 2000 are urged to stop driving their cars and arrange a free inspection.


For customers whose cars are found to contain affected airbags, BMW Group Australia will offer to arrange a loan or hire vehicle, reimbursement of alternative transport costs or even negotiate a buyback of their car.


To prevent owners from driving their cars to BMW dealerships for inspection, affected vehicles will either be towed away or visited by a mobile technician.


In a statement issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), it transpires that authorities in the United States, Japan and Australia “have identified a different type of Takata airbag that poses a critical risk of death or serious injury to vehicle occupants”.


The consumer watchdog explains that the BMW recall was prompted by “safety authorities’ recent identification of a pattern of abnormal airbag deployments involving BMW cars in Australia, Japan and the US”.


“The ACCC and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development are working with police and other authorities to understand the facts regarding two recent suspected misdeployments of these inflators in Australia, including a death and a serious injury.”


If the latest incidents are found to be caused by the Takata non-azide driver inflator (NADI) type 5AT airbags – not subject to the current compulsory Takata recalls for defective ‘Alpha’ and ‘Beta’ airbags – this will bring the Australian toll of the Takata scandal to two fatalities and two serious injuries.


A broader worldwide recall could also result from this development, with three million vehicles affected in Australia alone by existing Takata recalls.


Globally, 24 people are known to have been killed and 260 injured by defective Takata airbag inflators that cause shrapnel to be fired at high velocity when the airbag is deployed.


In an emailed statement, BMW Group Australia said it “has decided to voluntarily conduct a safety recall in Australia because, based on what we know so far, a particular batch of Takata airbags may not function entirely correctly due to a manufacturing defect.”


“We are currently checking this matter in more detail together with the Australian authorities. In addition, we are taking immediate steps to prevent the affected vehicles from being driven and implementing measures to minimise inconvenience to owners of those vehicles by providing alternative means of transportation,” it added.


Describing the situation as “a critical level of risk,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard reiterated BMW Group Australia’s call for owners of affected vehicles to stop using them with immediate effect.


“The ACCC urges people to stop driving their vehicle immediately and to contact BMW to arrange to have their vehicle inspected as soon as possible,” she said.


“BMW will arrange to tow your vehicle to repair facilities for inspection, or send a mobile technician out to your premises or vehicle’s location to inspect the vehicle.”


Affected E46 variants comprise 316i, 318i, 320i, 323i, 325i, 328i and 330i sedans plus 318Ci, 320Ci, 323Ci, 328Ci and 330Ci coupes.


Owners of these models can check their airbag recall status at https://www.recall.bmw.com.au/ or call BMW Australia’s Takata hotline on 1800 243 675.


As reported in September, the ACCC revealed that 600,000 potentially deadly Takata airbags were yet to be replaced as of June 30.

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