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Mitsubishi pleads with Takata airbag holdouts

Ta-ka-ta: By December 31, 2018, about 2.8 million of the 3.8 million Takata airbags recalled had been replaced.

Completion rate strong but Mitsubishi looks hard to replace final Takata airbags

Mitsubishi logo7 Feb 2019

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) has again called for owners of its vehicles still fitted with potentially deadly Takata airbags to have them replaced under the federal government's ongoing mandatory recall.
 
As of December 31, 2018, MMAL had fixed 143,563 of its 165,673 vehicles recalled, giving it a completion rate of 86.7 per cent that only trails that of Mazda Australia (92.7%) and Honda Australia (89.6%).
 
At that point in time, about 2.8 million of the 3.8 million airbags recalled had been replaced for a completion rate of 73.5 per cent.
 
Unlike several other companies, MMAL does not have the more dangerous Alpha-type airbags fitted to any of its vehicles.
 
Speaking to GoAuto last week at the facelifted fifth-generation Triton national media launch in Hobart, MMAL president and chief executive officer John Signoriello stressed the dangers involved with driving a vehicle with a Takata airbag still fitted.
 
“I really don’t understand how (after) multiple follow-ups, some people just don’t understand how serious it actually is,” he said. “In some cases, we just don’t get answers.
 
“We’ve had people knock on doors – as in our staff – and in the end, we had to stop that because the reception – while we did it in good intent – wasn’t the best, and we’ve got to protect the safety of our staff. Disappointing.”
 
When asked if there are other strategies that might be successful, Mr Signoriello said the automotive industry can work together on one particular solution that has a proven track record.
 
“I think we can do a bit more. When I say we, I use the collective we,” he said. “There is a really easy way: you can’t re-register your car until you’ve had your airbag changed.”
 
Excluding NSW and Victoria, this strategy has been successfully employed by all Australian state governments for the aforementioned Alpha airbags but not the more prevalent Beta-type units fitted to some Mitsubishi vehicles.
 
However, each company impacted by the mandatory recall is being challenged by vehicles that are sold unregistered and then later registered in another state without any form of communication regarding their unreplaced Takata airbag.
 
This scenario might mean that vehicle owners are unaware of the danger faced until they attempt to re-register the vehicle up to a year later.
 
While MMAL still has vehicles visiting its dealer network to have their airbags replaced, the volume is no longer at peak, having reached about 3000 per week and now averaging from 500 to 700.
 
Mr Signoriello added that for those holdouts who have been issued multiple recall notices, “it’s not costing them anything” to replace their vehicle’s Takata airbag with a new part at a local Mitsubishi dealership.
 
“There’s no excuse,” he said. “I know the other manufacturers probably do the same thing and I won’t speak for them, but we provide so many options: we’ll come to your house, we’ll give you a loan car, we’ll do whatever we need to do.
 
“We’re taking this seriously – not saying anyone doesn’t – but it’s one of those key measures for me.
 
“We have to (get to 100 per cent). The consequences aren’t nice. We’ll keep finding ways.”
 
As reported, if manufacturers do not replace all of their defective airbags by December 31, 2020, they will be subject to significant financial penalties for each breach of the mandatory recall’s strict rules.

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