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Mercedes-Benz punished for life-threatening decision

Mercedes-Benz has admitted to a life-threatening processes failure. Image: Getty

Luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz placed Australians’ lives in danger after failing to initiate a required recall of cars fitted with faulty Takata airbags, the consumer watchdog said today. 

Certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles had been fitted with the faulty Takata airbags, but the company did not issue a recall between June and November 2018 due to spare parts availability, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Tuesday. 

The manufacturer’s failure to issue the recall under the mandatory time-frame meant drivers’ lives were placed in danger, the ACCC said.

“Mercedes-Benz failed to comply with its obligations to initiate recalls under the Takata compulsory recall, potentially putting the lives of drivers and passengers at risk, and failed to inform anyone of the delay,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Industry participants must comply with their responsibilities under the Takata compulsory recall. Failure to do so may contravene the Australian Consumer Law.”

Mercedes-Benz has agreed to a new schedule to pull all affected cars off the road as soon as possible, while offering free hire cars and transport for Australians driving the most-dangerous vehicles, as part of a court-enforceable undertaking. 

“We are pleased that Mercedes-Benz is addressing our concerns and assisting drivers who cannot drive their affected cars by offering them hire cars,” Rickard said.

Which Mercedes-Benz vehicles are affected? 

Takata airbags are being recalled across the globe. Image: Getty

Affected Mercedes-Benz C and E Class vehicles include those that are older than six years and located in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and certain coastal regions in New South Wales north of Newcastle. 

Mercedes-Benz C and E Class vehicles that are older than nine years are also included in the compulsory recall. 

Drivers will be offered a hire car or alternative transport options if it is unable to replace the faulty airbags within two weeks of the date requested by the driver. 

Toyota, Suzuki, Mazda to buy back old cars 

Some companies are buying back affected vehicles. Image: Getty

The ACCC in January announced Mazda, Toyota and Suzuki would buy back old cars included in the separate compulsory Takata NADI 5-AT airbag recall.

"These airbags could injure or kill people in the car by misdeploying in an accident and propelling parts or metal fragments into the cabin of the vehicle at high speed," said ACCC acting chairperson Stephen Ridgeway.

"The airbags have also, in some instances, not fully inflated in a crash, thereby failing to protect drivers as expected."

Owners were told to contact the manufacturers for free inspections and immediately stop driving the cars. 

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