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Rivian issues first recall over airbag issue involving child passengers

Rivian trucks on a test track
Emily Bollinger
Highlights from the Rivian "First Mile" event at the plant's test track on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Normal.

The electric automaker Rivian has issued its first vehicle recall – for a potentially dangerous airbag issue in its R1T pickup trucks. There have been no known injuries thus far.

The recall, issued Tuesday, impacts around 500 trucks made in Normal. It’s related to the front passenger seat, where the “Occupant Classification System” may not deactivate the airbag when a child or child seat is there, as required by federal safety standards. As a result, a child in the front seat may be at a greater risk of injury in the event of a passenger air bag deployment during a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Rivian says it’s not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this issue. Generally, children are advised to ride in the back seat of vehicles anyway. The CDC tells families to “make sure children age 12 and younger are always properly buckled in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt—whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.”

The company says it will begin notifying affected customers not to seat children or use child seats in the passenger seat of the affected vehicles via e-mails, texts, and in vehicle messaging on the center display as soon as possible. Rivian will mail notifications by July 1.

Rivian will replace the passenger seat in the affected vehicles free of charge.

Rivian issued this statement Thursday:

“Rivian has determined that on certain R1T vehicles, the front passenger seat may not deactivate the front passenger airbag as required if a child seat or child is in that seat. In the event of a crash which deploys the front passenger airbag, a seat with this improper calibration may increase the risk of injury for any child or child seat occupant sitting in the seat.

We are contacting those with affected Rivian vehicles, and they will receive a passenger seat replacement free of charge at a Rivian service center. In the meantime, infants and children should not be placed in the front passenger seat of affected Rivian vehicles until a front passenger seat replacement is complete.”

The issue has been on Rivian’s radar since March, when “deviations” in the Occupant Classification System were identified and then investigated, according to NHTSA filings. The seats were used in vehicles made between September (when production began) and April 12.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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