On July 8, 2009 Hyundai Elantra, was involved in a low-speed collision in Newfoundland, Canada, spurring investigations into air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive, a Tennessee-based company. Canadian officials contend that the driver would have likely survived had the ARC-manufactured airbag inflator not ruptured and sent shrapnel flying through the passenger compartment. This incident, the latest of several, lead both Canadian and American auto safety regulators to investigate ARC inflators, which are installed in roughly 8 million cars in the United States alone. The products are mostly found in older cars made by General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Kia.
This incident underscores the importance of a probe already underway by the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That investigation began in July 2015 after the agency received reports that an Ohio woman was seriously injured in a 2009 accident where her 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan crashed, rupturing its inflator. The injured woman’s husband complained in writing to NHTSA, informing the agency that his wife was hurt by shrapnel when the air bag deployed following a collision with a snowmobile. “Most of the shrapnel went into her chest, with the air bag plate breaking apart, striking her in the chin, breaking her jaw in three places,” her husband wrote.
The NHTSA also found a similar injury involving someone in a 2004 Kia Optima. In both cases, the inflators were manufactured in ARC’s factory in Knoxville, TN.