Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

Bodyshop News (October 01, 2002)

Exploding Airbags Land Quebec Man in Court

A man alleged to have supplied thousands of dangerously rebuilt airbags to shops and motorists across Canada has been charged in Quebec City.

The accusations were filed in Quebec City court against Stephane Demers, 29, former owner of the now-bankrupt Coussins Gonflables Demers and National Sacs Gonflables. Demers is accused of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and mischief in rendering property dangerous.

The charges stem from the activities of those companies regarding the reclamation and rebuilding of discharged airbags. An investigation last year found that many of these airbags could pose a threat to car owners due to excessive explosive force or insufficient inflation of the airbag, which rendered the units ineffective as a safety item. In the worst cases, gunpowder was used as the explosive charge rather than the proper substance. In testing the units, a Quebec agency found that sometimes the units exploded into pieces during deployment.

It is estimated that the two companies sold more than 10,000 reconstructed airbags across Canada. Last year, the Quebec government demanded, through a court order, that Demers recall the dangerous products after tests showed some airbags contained gunpowder.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation issued warnings to the public that airbags originating from these firms could be dangerous and urged motorists with these airbags installed to have them replaced.

Demers, who was scheduled to appear in court on September 17, is also accused of stealing new airbags from two vehicles he rented from a company in Quebec City.

The province of Quebec has since passed legislation making it illegal to sell reconstructed, rebuilt, or recycled air bags in Quebec.

A spokesperson for the Socit de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) said vehicle owners are being advised against trying to change the airbags on their own.

“What is dangerous is that the airbags could go off while they are trying to remove them,” said SAAQ’s Mario St. Pierre. “There are specialists who can do it for them.”

Mitsubishi Opens Dealer Network In Canada

Bodyshops in Canada will now have a new nameplate to contend with, as Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc. has officially opened its first 18 dealerships across Canada.

The dealerships are offering seven vehicles: Lancer, Eclipse Coupe, Eclipse Spyder, Montero, Montero Sport, Outlander, and Galant. Some of these models will be familiar as they have been sold through the Chrysler network previously.

Originally scheduled to start retailing vehicles in Canada in February 2003 with 51 dealers selected by the end of the first full year of business, the company says it is ahead of target, having already selected 53 dealers, with 18 open now, and a total of 47 to be open by the end of 2002. It is anticipated that dealer spending will be $1.6 billion, resulting in an anticipated 6,400 new dealership jobs over the next five years.

Properly constructed airbags should deploy fully and safely. In testing by Quebec’s insurance board, rebuilt airbags from a Quebec company that were sold in Canada either under-inflated or exploded in sparks and shrapnel. The airbags were rebuilt using gunpowder and calls for their return and replacement have been largely unsuccessful.

Certified First Website Up

PPG Canada has announced the launch of the CertifiedFirst Auto Body Repair Network website. Canadian distributors, consumers and shops can reach and select Canada or the USA, English or French. The site features a “Shop Locator” list that includes Canadian shops and allows consumers to find the CertifiedFirst Network participating shop nearest their home.