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Little known fact: fleet customers could receive a $145 discount by opting not to have side airbags in certain vehicles from General Motors. That doesn't sound like a lot of money, but when, for example, Enterprise Rent-A-Car purchased 66,000 Chevy Impalas sans curtains, the company saved nearly $10 million. It's not like omitting side curtain airbags is illegal, either, as the safety equipment isn't mandatory. Further, similar vehicles from other OEMS don't have side airbags as standard equipment.

Safety advocates and many customers had a problem with the practice, though, as the vehicles would enter the used car market without the safety tech and some less scrupulous dealers were advertising the ex-rental vehicles as having the air bags intact.

GM had offered the discounts on 2006-2009 model vehicles, but The General has decided to stop the practice beginning with the 2010 model year. General Motors has also taken steps to ensure that customers know they're not getting side curtain airbags on older vehicles coming off fleet duty. The Detroit, MI based-automaker has modified its GM Certified website so that when dealers print out the window sticker on affected models, the correct information is displayed. GM has also notified companies like AutoTrader and Cars.com that the airbags weren't standard on some fleet vehicles. Dealers with certified used vehicles were also notified via phone to place the correct sticker windows on affected vehicles. GM estimates that over 200,000 vehicles were sold to fleets without side curtain airbags.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      +PR points for GM.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +2 if they can issue news on a new design for the Impala. That image made me realize how dated the model looks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Doesn't matter to me, they just get in the way when you take it to the destruction derby!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gah. My problem with American rental cars (at least Chevrolets, Fords, Chryslers, and Dodges) is why the manufacturers can't provide higher-end trim levels of their cars to rental companies; sure, rental companies need to pay more, but that cost will get passed onto the consumer anyway, and consumers will probably have a more favorable impression of a higher-end car (enough to possibly buy that car AND rent from the same company again).
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've been pleased with the rentals I've gotten.
        The impala and fusion were v6s and had decent enough trim(impala being handicapped by it's age) and the corolla I rented had all the bells and whistles I'd expect from it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Disgraceful.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A third option is the car companies pass on the cost to the renter, and it looks like that's what will happen. It may be on shaky moral ground, but the company is a) doing nothing illegal and 2) saving $10m by deleting side airbags. Coming under public pressure, they would basically have to reinvest their $10m in the fleet of cars and bump the cost onto renters. It should be pennies per rental but I'm sure the rental company (Enterprise in this case) would add in some dollars to make it worth their while. As long as nobody complains if rates are higher once GM removes the option of deleting side airbags, everybody should be happy....hah!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rental companies, like any company, try to cut costs. As the article points out, the gov't does not mandate side airbags, so possible solutions are:
        --Make side airbags mandatory, or
        --Don't rent cars that are missing side airbags

        Rental companies that purchase cars without deleting safety equipment could advertise the fact and then let the market decide. Seriously though, when I rent cars, I don't research what kind of safety equipment they have!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Disgraceful? It's not like side curtain airbags have been common for a while anyway, hell my daily driver doesn't even have any.

        Granted it's a nice feature to have, but it's not like you are renting a death trap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's disgraceful in that it's a standard feature on a car, unless you buy it a specific way.

        Or let me put it to you this way...

        If you get into a car at a rental place, would you or would you not expect it to have all of the standard safety equipment?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rules and laws are made for those who don't know any better. Enterprise didn't know any better than to keep the standard side airbags so now there are more rules, more laws, more regulation.

        I've often thought it ironic when megacorps complain about rules and regulations when it was likely their own poor choices that caused the rules and regulation to come into existence in the firts place.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They could have saved a few more bucks by omitting the spare tire and jack. How did they miss that?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Personally I think fleet cars should be sold fully-loaded. I've seen far too many people dismiss a striped down rental car's quality, whether it be aesthetics or comfort of ride with a weak motor and cheap suspension.

      It's beyond dumb to sell a stripped down product, especially if there's a HUGE difference in the quality.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, it is blatantly obvious that GM and Enterprise were in cahoots to kill as many people as possible with these special "side airbag delete" packages. I also heard the cars were spec'ed with smaller brakes and sans ABS to further the chance an unsuspecting Impala renter to crash into busloads of nuns and the occasional length-disadvantaged bus full of learning-impaired children, thus killing everybody involved.

      Once you get through that horrific run-on sentence, I will tell you that Enterprise knows how to redirect On-Star signals to beach whales and confuse bats in flight.

      Oh the Humanity!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I heard that they rigged the catalytic converters to give off mustard gas.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And they both have partnered with Pfizer and have developed a cure for cancer AND a car thar runs on water!!

        Too bad profit motives have kept the evil beasts from sharing with us.

        Hope Obama can help after he's done helping with my health care.
        • 5 Years Ago
        LOL@Shamdiddy!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Similar vehicles from other OEMS don't have side airbags as standard equipment."

      Like what vehicles? As a frequent car renter, I'd like to know! Do I have to start checking rental cars for airbags now?
        • 5 Years Ago
        As a frequent renter, I always request a vehicle with ESC and side airbags (curtain and seat). Because of that, I always know which vehicles come with it standard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I too would like to know this information. Hopefully this will curtail any and all OEM's from offering this idiotic factory delete.
        • 5 Years Ago
        GM was not the only one doing it.

        I am glad the "new" GM is responding quickly (weeks) to items like this rather than waiting for months, or even years to make the change.
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