WASHINGTON—General Motors Co will recall 5.9 million vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators after a U.S. safety agency said Monday it had rejected the Detroit automaker’s petition to avoid the callback.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said GM must recall the 2007-2014 model year trucks and SUVs because the inflators “are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators.”
GM has estimated in securities filings it would cost $1.2 billion if it were required to replace air bag inflators it had sought to avoid fixing.
The company had argued the recalls were unnecessary because they did not pose a safety risk.
GM said on Monday it still believed “a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record.” The company said it “will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps.”
The defect, which leads in rare instances to air bag inflators rupturing and sending potentially deadly metal fragments flying, prompted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history of about 63 million inflators. Worldwide, about 100 million inflators by 19 major automakers were recalled.
The recall includes some Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon vehicles built over an eight-year period.
In total, 18 U.S. deaths have been reported tied to Takata air bag inflators—though none in GM vehicles.
To date, 15 U.S. deaths have been reported in Honda vehicles, two in Ford Motor Co vehicles and one in a BMW since 2009.
By David Shepardson