September 5, 2009

GM will no longer delete side airbags

U.S. fleet buyers will no longer be able to opt out of buying General Motors cars equipped with standard side airbags, company officials say.

Large-scale buyers such as rental car companies in the past have been given the option of deleting the side, or curtain, airbags on the factory floor, saving $145 per vehicle, but that will no longer be the case, The Detroit News reported Saturday.

Many of those fleet vehicles have ended up on the resale market erroneously advertised as having the airbags, and GM says it will do what it can to prevent car dealers from wrongly advertising the cars, the News said.

Brian Latouf, director of GM's Global Structure & Safety Integration Center, indicated the automaker will no longer allow the airbags to be deleted by fleet buyers. He noted vehicles without side airbags are clearly marked in the owner's manual, but admitted to the News some used GM vehicles without the airbags were indeed being advertised as sporting the safety feature.

Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, told the newspaper Enterprise Rent-A-Car alone bought 66,000 Chevrolet Impalas that didn't have side air bags.