Honda Australia airbag victim sent five recall notices
HONDA Australia has revealed that the driver killed by a faulty airbag in Sydney on July 13 had received five recall notices over the past 16 months - but the car was not brought in for the replacement airbag which takes less than an hour to fit.
"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and have reached out to them," said Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins. "But as investigations are ongoing it's not appropriate for us to comment further."
When asked if Honda had sent a recall notice to the owner of the 2007 CR-V car prior to the fatal crash in Cabramatta on July 13, Mr Collins said the customer was sent "five recall notices over the past 16 months".
The revelation comes as the car maker tries to replace the remaining 193,000 airbags in 143,000 Honda cars still on Australian roads. Of the 2.35 million in total across 13 brands in Australia, more than 1.5 million still need replacement airbags.
Honda also confirmed approximately 42,000 of the 650,000 faulty airbags in local cars were replaced with identical Takata airbags with the volatile propellent that can deteriorate over time.
Honda said customers were not told they had a new version of the identical Takata airbag fitted to their vehicles - rather than a different type of inflator the majority of customers received - and there is currently no plan to replace them.
Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins told media at the launch of the new CR-V soft-roader - which is not equipped with Takata airbags - that it had replaced 70 per cent of the airbags on its recall list. The industry average is 36 per cent.
"In total there are 42,000 like for like (Takata airbag) replacements," said Mr Collins. "Whether it's a stop gap measure only time will tell. That may well be the case. We need to wait on notification from head office."
Honda says it has issued more than 1 million letters to its owners to encourage them to bring their cars in to be fixed free of charge.
"We have a dedicated call centre of 25 people whose sole purpose is to track down and book these cars in for repair," said Mr Collins. The call centre can also communicate in "160 different languages".
"This (recall) is of a scale the industry has never seen before," said Mr Collins. "Our goal is to track down every inflator and get it replaced as soon as possible."
"We have been taking this matter seriously for some time now. Our average repair rate currently is 5000 inflators per week. At our peak we did close to 10,000 inflators per week."
Honda says of the 650,000 faulty airbags in Hondas sold in Australia since 2001, there are 193,000 inflators remaining in 143,000 cars that need to be replaced.
"We have 105,000 replacement inflators in stock covering all the (Honda) recalls and another 34,000 inflators on their way."