There are indications that some auto dealers in the country are selling vehicles fitted with faulty airbags that may deploy improperly and put the lives of their occupants at risk in the event of an accident.
A report on Monday claimed that the vehicles were being sold not only in Europe but in other parts of the world, including Nigeria, where new vehicles are being imported and sold along with locally assembled ones affixed with imported airbags.
Although the global vehicle recalls, which started last year as a result of the faulty airbags produced by Takata Corporation of Japan, affect over a dozen auto brands, only one dealer has extended the recall campaign to the country and directed owners of the affected vehicles to bring them for repairs.
But an automobile consultant, Dr. Oscar Odiboh, raised the alarm that while the world was outraged by the fact that vehicles that would be recalled in future due to the airbag problem were being sold in the United States and Europe, it was scandalous that those vehicles already recalled were being sold to customers in Nigeria.
A report by Reuters on Monday named a number of auto firms that had continued to sell new vehicles with defective airbags that would eventually need to be recalled.
It stated that some automakers confirmed they were still selling vehicles with the faulty airbags, and cited engineering and supply challenges as reasons.
A US Senator, Bill Nelson, was quoted as saying, “What’s troubling here is that consumers are buying new cars not realising they’re going to be recalled. These cars shouldn’t be sold until they’re fixed.”
“This may be the first time in history where multiple automakers are selling brand new cars with a known and potentially deadly defect,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.
The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there had been no ruptures in any vehicles built since 2008, suggesting the vehicles might not be prone to danger for six years or more.
According to the NHTSA, the vehicles don’t become vulnerable to exploding airbags without long-term exposure to high humidity. In the short-term, the agency says, they are safe to drive and much safer than the older models.
Takata inflators do not pose unreasonable risk when installed in a new vehicle or for several years afterward, the NHTSA Administrator, Mark Rosekind, said, which the report said could have given the automakers the legal footing to continue to sell the vehicles.
A spokesman for Takata, Jared Levy, said in a statement that the company was “working aggressively” and had produced more than 15 million replacement kits.
Odiboh slammed some dealers of new vehicles in Nigeria who failed to extend the recall campaign to their customers, accusing them of placing profit over the safety of the people.
He said, “Twelve out of the 15 auto brands that have been recalled by their manufacturers in the past 30 years are established brands in Nigeria, but none extended past recall benefits to their local customers within the same period.
“This scenario worries independent stakeholders even as the controversy rages that Nigerian automobile companies obtain the recall replacement items from their manufacturers and simply sell the parts to unsuspecting after-sales customers.”
The Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Council, Mr. Aminu Jalal, said those buying vehicles from the grey market and unauthorised dealers were taking a big risk as they would not enjoy the manufacturers’ warranty and recall benefits.
“Nigerians are hereby urged to buy their vehicles from local manufacturers and authorised distributors to ensure they enjoy warranty, recall services and special service campaigns if required,” he said in a statement obtained on Monday.