After once boldly claiming no-one would die in a Volvo car in 2020, the Swedish car maker is recalling 54,000 vehicles in the US – and 2559 examples in Australia – after a death linked to a faulty airbag in North America.
Although the defective airbag was not supplied by Takata, the conditions are eerily similar.
The recall notice for certain older model Volvo cars in the US said the driver’s airbag inflator “may rupture, sending metal fragments flying, when the air bag is deployed,” the Reuters news agency reported.
At the centre of the recall are certain 2001 to 2003 model S60 and S80 Volvo sedans located in “high humidity” conditions.
Heat and humidity were also triggers for faulty Takata airbags, which led the recall of more than 100 million cars globally, including approximately 3 million in Australia.
Investigators in the US believe the death is the only known case of a faulty airbag deployment in these types of Volvo cars globally.
Volvo Cars Australia said it is investigating the issue and that 2559 cars will be recalled locally – including 2177 examples of the Volvo S60 sedan from 2002 and 2003, and 381 examples of the S80 sedan from 2001.
“Due to the age of these vehicles our first step is to check with (national registration data bases) as to how many are still on the road,” said a statement from Volvo Car Australia.
“These are very old cars and we expect many of these to be out of service or scrapped. We are following the recall code of practice notifying the (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to see how many cars are still on the road. We are working with (the ACCC) now and the notice is imminent.”
UPDATE, November 11, 2020: the recall notice has now been published, and can be found on the Australian government's recall website here.
Volvo USA said the company will “replace the inflators with a modern propellant and inflator” with “parts are expected to be available by March,” according to Reuters.
The USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed one person died in a Volvo equipped with an airbag made by supplier ZF/TRW which contained propellant 5AT-148N. The authority had been investigating the death since August 2019.
US road safety authorities and Volvo are “gathering and reviewing data about other vehicles with this inflator to determine if additional actions are needed,” reported Reuters.
Airbag supplier ZF Group said it has been working with Volvo and US safety authorities since it was notified about the incident in August 2019.