After a public relations fiasco that was in many ways reminiscent of the Pinto “Car-B-Que” debacle of the 1970s, GM is finally requiring fleet buyers like rental car companies to keep standard side airbags on cars normally equipped with them. The previous, highly questionable logic was that fleet customers could save around $150 by checking off a “no side airbags” option when they ordered from the automaker. The real issue is that the cars that were affected by this normally have them standard, and when rental car agencies like Enterprise went and sold them after their normal period of time, without properly informing customers that the airbags weren’t there. Thus, unwitting customers were horribly misinformed, all while some fat Enterprise cats saved a bundle – not by switching to Geico, but by shortchanging customers on safety. Tragically, some of these customers were killed and injured in subsequent crashes, which uncovered the duplicity. More after the jump.
That being said, GM seems to be doing the right thing here, because while they could have done something to avoid this situation earlier, it’s not really their duty to the end customer to inform them – it was the rental car companies. Although I should mention that the issue could, and probably will, be litigated every which way from Sunday, enriching lawyers and filing clerks, who might eventually be able to afford ex-Enterprise Impalas with the airbags actually installed. Thus, it comes full circle.
[Source: Detroit News]