Safety testing conducted by Holden as part of the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) export program has led to the recall of more than 38,000 Pontiac G8 sedans in the US.
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A total of 38,444 Australian-made Pontiac G8 sports sedans produced between November 2, 2007 and January 22, 2009 have been recalled to make amendments to the front passenger side airbag.

The Pontiac G8 was based on the Holden VE Commodore. It was produced in left-hand drive for the North American market. The airbag recall does not affect the Holden Commodore.

Testing by Holden showed a ‘fifth-percentile woman’ (around 150cm tall and weighing 50kg) was not adequately protected by the side airbag in a 48km/h frontal barrier crash test.

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US, General Motors explained:

“With the front passenger seat positioned full forward, the seat position sensor will cause a 30 millisecond deployment delay between the first and second stages of the dual-stage frontal passenger airbag.“In the event of a crash severe enough to command deployment of the front passenger airbag, this delay may result in increased head injury to certain (fifth percentile) front seat occupants.”

Holden spokeswoman Emily Perry confirmed the recall only applied to exported Pontiac vehicles and not Holden Commodores. She said the defect was contained to vehicles sold in North America as they had a unique airbag calibration and seatbelt setup. Ms Perry confirmed no injuries had been reported as a result of the defect.

Holden’s investigation began on January 19 and subsequent testing and analysis led to the decision on October 27 to conduct a non-compliance recall in the US.

With Pontiac now defunct, General Motors dealers will perform the recall, which involves reprogramming the vehicles’ sensing and diagnostic modules.

The recall does not apply to the 2012 Chevrolet Caprice PPV as it has different restraint and sensing systems to the affected 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 vehicles.