Faulty air bags in certain vehicles of South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have been under investigation, after auto crashes in the United States killed four, US road safety authority has said.
Four of the crashes involved Hyundai Sonatas made in 2011 and the other two involved Kia Fortes made in 2012 and 2013.
Hyundai earlier announced in February that it would recall 155,000 Sonatas starting April 20, citing the same airbag problem, and promised to offer alternative vehicles for owners to use until the fix work is complete.
"Kia remains focused on the safety of its customers and it will work closely with NHTSA on the ongoing investigation, including monitoring and conducting additional crash testing as appropriate", the company said in a statement.
The U.S. government is looking into whether other automakers have used the same airbag control system and whether the same problem could occur with vehicles made by them.
The issue in these vehicles are linked to electrical circuit shorts in the air bag control computers, which are developed by parts supplier ZF-TRW. The NHTSA document says the agency understands the 2012 and 2013 Kia Fortes being investigated also used similar ZF-TRW-supplied air bag control units. Less than a month ago, Hyundai announced the recall of almost 155,000 2011 Hyundai Sonatas due to the risk that a short circuit could prevent the air bag deploying in the event of a crash.
Trainor confirmed to NPR that the NHTSA investigation opened yesterday is directly related to this recall, and Hyundai will notify all affected vehicle-owners about further recalls by April 20. Four of the crashes with significant damage occurred in the Sonata with the other two coming in the Forte.
Jim Trainor, Hyundai spokesman, told the news organization that "it's very unusual to have that kind of collision".
In the documents, NHTSA said it understands that the Kia Fortes under investigation use similar air bag control computers made by ZF-TRW.
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