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NHTSA Expands Hyundai Elantra Airbag Investigation

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Hyundai Elantra Limited (US)The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expanding its investigation of airbags in 2012 Hyundai Elantra models to two new model years, 2011 and 2013, David Shepardson reports for The Detroit News.

The government began its investigation in May after receiving a report about a driver’s side curtain that improperly deployed in an accident, with a metal bracket — a stiffener in the headliner assembly — detaching and cutting the driver’s ear in half, according to The Detroit News and an Associated Press article appearing in Newsday. The ear-slicing incident occurred in Longview, Texas, on April 7, Shepardson writes.

The original investigation was of 123,000 2012 Elantras, but NHTSA now says only Korean-built Elantras have the part that caused the problem, AP reports, and about 75,000 of those were sold in the U.S.

NHTSA’s expanded investigation will look at those 1011 and 2013 Elantras with similar metal brackets, although there have been no similar reports regarding problems with those vehicles, Shepardson writes. He goes on to say:

Hyundai inspected the assemblies in eight Elantras and found they were properly installed — and the automaker has also attempted to replicate the incident. In one test, the metal bracket detached but it didn’t repeat or explain the injury incident.

AP reports that Hyundai said the problem appears to be isolated.

Back in July, Hyundai recalled certain model year 2012 and 2013 Hyundai Sonatas because curtain side airbags could possibly inflate without a deployment command because of a manufacturing error, thus increasing the risk of injury to occupants. In addition, an unexpected deployment could distract the driver and limit his or her ability to see the road, increasing the risk of a crash, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation press release published on ENews Park Forest.

According to Wikipedia’s Hyundai Elantra page:

 Total US sales for the Elantra in 2011 reached 186,361 units, up 41 percent from 2010. The Elantra was crowned North American Car of the Year at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show over the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat, and also The Elantra has been crowned as South African car of the year 2012. At the 8th Manila International Auto Show, the Elantra was crowned as the Philippine Car of the Year, the first time a Korean car maker has won the award.


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