Bloomberg reports that several car rental companies warned General Motors (GM) nearly seven years ago about a potential airbag defect in their Chevy Cobalt model.
Their investigation claims that Vanguard Car Rental USA, Inc. notified GM in 2006 about a fatal collision involving a Chevy Cobalt where the airbag failed to deploy.
Using customer service call transcripts, warranty records, and police reports, Bloomberg found that Enterprise Holdings Inc. pressed GM about a potential defect after airbags failed to deploy in routine crashes. Avis Budget Group and Hertz also had Cobalts in their rental fleet that had crashed.
In 2005, a woman and her ex-husband were killed in a Saturn Ion she had rented from Enterprise. Shortly thereafter, Enterprise asked GM to investigate and inspect the vehicle. In January 2006, a police report indicated that the airbags of a Chevrolet Cobalt rented from Enterprise did not deploy after the vehicle slid off the road and into a tree, killing the driver on impact. The decedent’s family requested that the vehicle be inspected for a potential problem after they found out about the airbag issue. Although there was an effort to gather information about the accidents, there was never enough evidence to open a formal defect investigation.
It’s estimated that at least nine fatal collisions involving failed airbags were in a rented GM vehicle.