Audi added to a wave of US airbag recalls, saying more than 100,000 late-model cars need to be fixed.
A software flaw means frontal airbags in the Audi A4 and S4 from the 2013 through 2015 model years may not deploy in crashes when the side airbags have already fired, according to a company notice posted online today by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Public relations manager for Audi SA, Sameerah Bhabha confirmed that 16 798 local models are affected. A recall campaign is already underway and owners are being notified, she said.
“When you have these staggeringly complex vehicles taking a risk on new technology, I think it is to be expected,” Scott Keogh, Audi of America’s president, said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television. Reprogramming the software should take about 20 minutes at dealerships, he said.
Automakers are under increasing pressure to resolve defects before they escalate into safety crises, such as the one involving defective Takata airbags that has led 10 automakers to recall a combined 7.8 million US vehicles.
The Audi flaw is different from the Takata defect, which involves airbags inflating with so much force they can explode, sending shrapnel toward front-seat passengers.
Audi said it discovered its airbag software flaw in its cars during testing and “ongoing field observations” in August. That triggered analysis of crashes in Europe where airbags had deployed. Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi decided on a US recall in October after analysis and test simulations.
Audi informed the US government of the safety concerns, Keogh said.
Separately, as part of the US investigation of Takata airbags, Honda was asked today to answer 38 questions, under oath, by December 15, as NHTSA seeks to find out what the Japanese automaker knew, and when, about airbag defects.
NHTSA issued a special order requiring Honda to document every incident involving airbag ruptures alleged to have occurred and account for known deaths and injuries. It also asked what steps the automaker took to investigate quality control at Takata factories, as well as design standards dating back to 1998 and documents from product-liability lawsuits.
The action is related to a similar legal order issued to Takata on October 30. It’s separate from an investigation, announced November 3, into whether Honda failed to include all known deaths and injuries in early-warning data submissions to NHTSA.