Mercedes ‘risking lives’ with Takata airbag delays
AUSTRALIA'S competition watchdog has accused Mercedes-Benz of "potentially putting lives of drivers and passengers at risk" by failing to initiate recalls of cars with Takata airbags.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said Mercedes failed to comply with mandatory recalls for C-Class and E-Class luxury vehicles by delaying action until spare parts were available.
It said many of the vehicles affected "should have been prioritised for urgent replacement due to their age, exposure to heat and humidity, or location of the airbag inflator".
Extensive global demand for a new design of replacement airbags, according to Mercedes, meant it was "unable to meet the recall timelines".
One Australian has died and another is suspected to have been killed by faulty Takata airbags which pose a "serious safety hazard" to consumers, according to the consumer authority.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the authority had accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Mercedes, which has promised to address the issue.
"Mercedes-Benz failed to comply with its obligations to initiate recalls under the Takata compulsory recall, potentially putting the lives of drivers and passengers at risk, and failed to inform anyone of the delay," Ms Rickard said.
"Industry participants must comply with their responsibilities under the Takata compulsory recall.
"Failure to do so may contravene the Australian Consumer Law."
A statement issued by the carmaker said it developed new airbag inflators with a different chemical composition to problematic Takata units.
"Due to extensive global demand for the new airbags, Mercedes-Benz Australia has been unable to meet the recall time frames previously agreed with the ACCC for certain C-Class and E-Class vehicles equipped with affected Takata airbags," the manufacturer said.
"Additional supply of replacement airbags from the parts supplier has been confirmed, and Mercedes-Benz is committed to replacing all affected Takata airbags before the completion deadline of 31 December 2020, as required by the compulsory recall notice."
The ACCC said Mercedes must offer a replacement vehicle or hire car to some customers depending on their location, the age of the vehicle, and when parts will be available.
Older cars and vehicles exposed to high heat and humidity are the main priority.
Mercedes' recall involves 25,351 C-Class vehicles built between 2008 and 2015, and 9434 E-Class vehicles made between 2010 and 2017.
The brand says more than 70 per cent of its cars affected by the issue have been fixed.
More information: ACCC.gov.au