Two car dealers and an online auction site have been penalised by the Australian consumer watchdog for allegedly spruiking cars affected by the wide-ranging Takata airbag recall.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued infringement notices to Grays Ecommerce Group Limited (Grays), Berwick Motor Group Pty Ltd (BMG) and HG Innovations Pty Ltd (HG Innovations) for "allegedly selling or advertising vehicles under active recall".
As a result, the three corporations have paid fines totaling $63,000.
Both BMG (a new and second-hand vehicle dealer in Victoria) and HG Innovations (a second-hand vehicle dealer and operator of ride share businesses in Queensland) paid a penalty of $12,600 each for selling a vehicle under active recall.
The ACCC claimed that BMG, through its agent Grays, "sold a 2003 Nissan Pulsar vehicle which ... contained a high risk alpha airbag".
"The ACCC was particularly concerned about this alleged conduct, as Alpha airbags have a very high risk of rupture, which can cause serious injury or death," the watchdog said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the ACCC alleged HG Innovations, also through Grays, "supplied a 2005 BMW 3 vehicle which was under active recall".
Additionally, Grays paid penalties of $37,800 in total following three infringement notices for allegedly making "false or misleading representations" by advertising a 2003 Nissan Pulsar, a 2005 BMW 3 and a 2002 Honda Jazz.
“We allege that by advertising these vehicles for sale, Grays made false or misleading representations to consumers that the vehicles were of saleable quality, when that was not the case because they were under active recall,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“These penalties are a reminder that it is in breach of the Australian Consumer Law to sell or advertise for sale vehicles with defective Takata airbags that are under active recall.”
According to the ACCC, payment of an infringement notice penalty is not an admission of a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC urged consumers to check if their vehicle was affected by a recall via the Product Safety Australia website, with Ms Rickard encouraging drivers with vehicles housing a defective Alpha airbag to "stop driving immediately".
Alpha airbags, the ACCC explained, were "not produced according to design standards and do not deploy as intended" and are part of a compulsory recall that kicked off in 2018. They were installed in certain Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mazda and Lexus models sold between 2001 and 2004.
There have been four recorded incidents involving affected airbags in Australia, including one death and one serious injury in BMW vehicles and one death and one serious injury in Toyota vehicles.
You can also check whether your vehicle has been affected by entering the vehicle's registration at IsMyAirbagSafe.com.au or texting 'Takata' to 0487 AIRBAG (247224).