TOKYO: All Japanese imported vehicles entering New Zealand will be subject to greater scrutiny from today. The global Takata airbag crisis has seen the recall of 300,000 airbag systems in New Zealand cars.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) will now conduct visual inspections on every vehicle coming into the country.
NZTA says because of the way the modifications were carried out, the only option to ensure safety is “invasive visual checks”.
The agency’s national delivery manager Robyn Elston says information from Japanese manufacturers indicates the issue will be limited to vehicles imported since 2015.
“We are working urgently with individual manufacturers, the Motor Industry Association (MIA), and the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association (IMVIA), to gather more information and to identify individual vehicles which are affected.”
Ms Elston says NZTA will publish a list of affected vehicles on its website as information is gathered from manufacturers.
In response to the crisis, some Japanese manufacturers began offering customers the options of disabling front passenger airbags because of the wait times for replacement Takata airbags. Road Safety Campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson says people who own affected cars need to act urgently.
“It’s absolutely essential that any of these vehicles that have had their airbags disconnected get them connected again as soon as possible.” Matthew-Wilson is critical of NZTA, saying it is reacting at a worryingly slow pace.
“For the people that have the airbags that are disconnected or are worried that they may have one of the vehicles with the airbags that are disconnected, it’s going to take all too long to work it out.”
While it is not yet confirmed how many vehicles have been effected, Mr Matthew-Wilson says lives are at risk.
“The seatbelts and everything are designed to work with the airbags and if the airbag isn’t there you could be seriously injured or killed.”