Audi will become the second car company in Australia to buy back vehicles fitted with potentially deadly Takata airbags – and customers won't be allowed to keep their cars because Audi does not plan to develop airbag replacements for vehicles so old.
Car companies have calculated that it is cheaper to buy back the vehicles rather than engineer and test replacement airbags.
Six weeks after BMW recalled 12,663 cars in Australia, offered to buy them back from customers, and urged owners not to drive them, fellow German brand Audi is taking urgent action because some of its cars are equipped with the same airbag fitted in older BMWs, and believed to be linked to one recent death and one recent serious injury in Australia.
Audi says it is not aware of any of its cars being involved in a fatality or serious injury in Australia, but it is recalling 3960 vehicles (see full list below) because the airbag inflator could rupture, firing potentially deadly metal fragments in the cabin during a crash.
The company says there's also a risk the airbag won't inflate enough when required.
Audi says it will buy back road-registered cars involved in the recall at market value "as determined by an independent third party valuer appointed by Audi".
Owners won't be able to have their airbags replaced "due to the age of the vehicles".
It will contact the owners of cars with the dangerous airbags directly, although concerned owners can also call 1800 856 770 to check if their car is involved.
"It is recommended that owners of vehicles affected by the recall make an appointment with their nearest Audi authorised dealer as soon as possible so that the vehicle can be inspected," Audi said in a statement.
While BMW warned owners not to drive their cars, Audi said it would offer to make "alternative arrangements" for customers who "do not feel comfortable driving their vehicle to the dealer for an inspection".
Although it didn't confirm what form they will take, Audi said it will provide a "mobility option" for owners without a car during the buyback process.
BMW said it would pay for taxis, rental cars or supply loan vehicles.
A total of 3960 cars are affected across the following model lines in the Audi recall:
- 1997-2000 Audi A4
- 1998-2000 Audi A6
- 1998-2000 Audi A8
- 1999-2000 Audi TT
- 1998-1999 Audi Cabriolet
As with last month's BMW recall, the airbags involved in the Audi buyback are a new type of Takata airbag not previously detected.
"Transport safety authorities in Australia, US and Japan have identified a different type of Takata airbag that poses a critical risk of death or serious injury to vehicle occupants," a statement issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said last month.
"The ACCC and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development are working with police and other authorities to understand the facts regarding two recent suspected mis-deployments of these inflators in Australia, including a death and a serious injury."
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