Government Probes Hyundai And Kia Crashes

The Hyundai logo on a Sonata hybrid vehicle

The US has launched a probe into faulty air bags in certain Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp vehicles that failed to deploy after crashes in which four people were killed and another six injured.

The agency "is now aware of six crashes with significant collision related damage events involving Hyundai and Kia models where air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes", said the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Saturday on the website of its Office of Defects Investigation.

The models being investigated are 2011 Hyundai Sonatas and 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes, according to a document posted on the NHTSA website.

Hyundai issued a recall last month for more than 150,000 U.S. Sonatas after incidents of non-deployment were linked to electrical overstress in the air-bag control unit, but said it did not have a final fix.

Kia has not recalled any vehicles yet, but the company did release a statement that read "Kia will act promptly to conduct a safety recall, if it determines that a recall would be appropriate".

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching an investigation into automakers based in Korea.

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An estimated 425,000 cars may be affected by the issue.

The problem has been traced to circuit shorts in air bag control computers.

The front air bags failed to deploy in six crashes, which resulted in a total of four deaths and six injuries, according to an investigation report by the Office of Defects Investigation. The Forte crash occurred in Canada and the Forte was a Canadian market vehicle.

Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor said the problem occurred in rare head-on collisions that were offset from the center of the vehicles. ODI's current understanding is that the above Kia products also use similar ACUs supplied by ZF-TRW.

Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors said on March 19 their combined January sales in China fell 18 percent from a year earlier.

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