By 24/7 Wall St.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is investigating a complaint that the side airbag in a 2012 Hyundai Elantra cut the driver's ear in half when it deployed.
According to the complaint, when the side airbag blew open in a crash on April 7, it threw a piece of loose metal that sliced the driver's ear and was found stuck in the headliner above the driver's head. The cut was officially described as a "laceration to the driver's ear/face."
Hyundai Motor now finds itself the subject of federal regulatory probe. The NHTSA said it has begun an investigation of the incident, but not a recall. There is no evidence that the problem exists in other 2012 Elantra models. The probe will be conducted by the Office of Defect Investigation, an engineering wing of the NHTSA.
According to the AP, Hyundai said that it "has no other reports of injury from side-curtain air bag deployment in 2012 Elantras." The manufacturer says it had not examined the car yet. Apparently, neither has the NHTSA.
About 123,000 of the the 2012 Hyundai Elantras were sold. Hyundai has been one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. Its market share was 5.3% as of April. That means the South Korean car company is closing in on Nissan in terms of the total North American car and light truck sales. In addition, its stable mate Kia had a market share of 4%. Both are owned by the second-largest company in South Korea -- industrial giant Hyundai.
Recalls are commonplace in the auto industry, and they often involve hundreds of thousands of cars. Hyundai is not likely to face an action of nearly that magnitude. The largest recall in recent U.S. history was nearly three years ago. That's when the No. 1 Japanese car company, Toyota, announced recalls of approximately 5.2 million vehicles for the pedal entrapment/floor mat problem, and an additional 2.3 million vehicles for the sticking accelerator pedal problem.
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