Air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead.
The administration's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) "is now aware of six crashes with significant collision-related damage events involving Hyundai and Kia models where airbags failed to deploy in frontal crashes", which four people died and six were hurt, its website said. Four such crashes involved model year (MY) 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and two others involved MY 2012 and MY 2013 Kia Fortes.
The "failure of the airbag control unit (ACU) may prevent the frontal airbags from deploying in the event of a crash", it said.
However, Hyundai has not identified a remedy for this recall and has stated it was investigating the cause of the electrical overstress with the product supplier, ZF-TRW. A Hyundai spokesperson told A.P. that the problem occurred in "rare high-speed head-on collisions offset from the center of the vehicles".
"We are actively investigating what exactly causes the airbag control unit to become damaged in these specific types of accidents", it said. He added that dealers may offer replacement cars to vehicle owners until the problem is resolved, saying, "We certainly would do everything we can to help our customers". The 2013 Forte crash occurred in Canada. The company said it is working with customers and supports the NHTSA investigation.
Under the investigation, ODI will evaluate the scope of Hyundai's recall, confirm Kia's use of the same or similar ZF-TRW ACU, review the root cause analysis of all involved parties, and review and evaluate pertinent vehicle and/or ACU factors that may be contributing to, or causing EOS failures. In total, the crashes resulted in four fatalities and six injuries. Hyundai does not yet have a fix for the problem but said it expects the Sonata recall to start April 20. In addition, the agency will try to determine if other auto makers are using potentially faulty parts made by ZF-TRW. NHTSA now wants to know if other automakers used the same computer.