Takata airbags idle hundreds of rental cars

Takata airbags idle hundreds of rental cars

At Kona airport, across from the Avis rental car office, is a lava-coated piece of property that might usually be called a vacant lot. Today, however, it's covered with a sea of Mustangs.

Ford Mustang, more than 80 of them, parked there indefinitely because the Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata recalled them.

It's not just Avis. The Ford Mustang is one of the most popular of all rental cars. People who normally drive staid SUVs like to rent sporty models on vacation, paying more to do so.

"We have pulled 136 Mustangs from our Hawaii fleets as a result of the recall," said Anna Bootenhoff of Hertz. "It has been longstanding Hertz policy not to rent recalled vehicles until they have been repaired." In 2012 Hertz helped craft federal legislation to create one national rule on recalls.

Takata Corp., a pioneer in the manufacture of seatbelts and airbags, has a history of major recalls, but the current round tops them all. Millions of vehicles are affected.

Sources in the local car rental industry say the rental chains have been told it will take at least six months from the start of a manufactured fix before all cars are back in service, and, as of this week, such manufacturing has yet to begin.

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