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Push for ban on all cars with Takata airbags

Deal with it: The FCAI says full-scale deregistration of all cars subject to the Takata recall in Australia should be mandated if they have not had their airbags replaced.

FCAI pushes for cars with Beta-type Takata airbags to be deregistered if not fixed

6 Sep 2019

TENS of thousands of Australian car owners could have their vehicles forcibly deregistered if they fail to have potentially lethal Takata airbags replaced in the lead up to the compulsory recall’s deadline at the end of next year.


Processes are already underway in all states and territories to ensure vehicles with the remaining 4495 Alpha airbags – the type deemed most likely to shoot metal fragments into the cabin upon deployment – are not able to be reregistered unless the airbags are replaced.


However, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has revealed that it will also push for all remaining vehicles – some 536,000 as at June 30 this year – to become subject to the registration ban next year.


These include Beta-type airbags which make up the bulk of the recall.


The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) show that more than 600,000 Beta airbags still require replacement.


In an interview with GoAuto this week, FCAI chief executive Tony Weber described full-scale deregistration during 2020 as “a responsible act” that should be mandated by all states and territories in conjunction with the ACCC.


“This is an enormous exercise. We’re talking about three million vehicles in Australia. This is the biggest recall by a long way. The industry has done an incredible job to get this close now,” he said.


“There’s 537,000 outstanding vehicles, according to the ACCC, and to get those 537,000 processed, some people, quite unbelievably, are ignoring the campaign.


“They are aware of the danger and ignoring it. And I think that deregistration of vehicles in 2020 for people that have had the opportunities to actually respond – they’re very much aware of the campaign, they’re very much aware of the dangers – deregistration is a responsible act.


“Because this, at the end of the day, is a public safety issue.”


Asked if the ACCC and the automotive industry were going to have to accept that there will be a percentage of cars that will fall into the ‘too hard’ basket and not be fixed before the deadline expires, Mr Weber said: “There are processes in place to have all cars addressed. If the car is registered, it should be addressed.


“I believe that we can get extremely low numbers if there is co-operation with the ACCC, the states and territories and the industry.”


Mr Weber said he was more concerned about the safety of vehicle owners than the potential ramifications the car industry is facing, including the prospect of heavy penalties with vehicles that remain on the road with the Takata airbags once the deadline is reached.


“Our focus has always been on the safety of motorists,” he said. 


“This is our absolute priority with Takata. It’s all about safety. We have had an enormous advertising campaign as you will have seen. It’s all about keeping motorists safe and we’ve got to do absolutely everything because it is a public health issue.


“And like most public health issues, government has to play a role.”


There scope for the deadline to be varied through an application to the ACCC, but Mr Weber insisted “our focus is now on the 31st of December, 2020”.


Victoria and New South Wales are the only states still to finalise the registration ban on Alpha airbags, but this will take place soon.


No states or territories have committed to Beta bag bans, but Mr Weber said the FCAI is in discussion with the ACCC and, through the consumer watchdog, the relevant state and territory jurisdictions.


“We recognise that this is not the point in time, but it won’t be long before we’re into 2020 and that (deregistration) will have to happen if we’re going to get these vehicles off the road by the end of December 2020,” he said.


The focus of the FCAI’s current campaign is directed towards “lower socioeconomic areas of the economy, regional and rural Australia, and the people who don’t have English as their first language”.

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