The auto safety parts maker Takata Corp. has been involved in a mounting global safety crisis that has affected millions of cars in its home country as well, and its flawed airbags might spur changes to the country’s maintenance procedures.
The automakers in Japan are currently discussing whether car owners should from now on regularly replace the chemicals used to inflate the airbags – with Takata’s inflators seen prone to explosions that spray metal shrapnel and debris inside the cabin at high velocity. Fumihiko Ike, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and Honda, said that drivers might need to regularly have the chemicals used to inflate the airbags replaced to avoid time degradation and new accidents. So far, the Takata issue has been linked to five deaths. Ike told media representatives during the association’s monthly press conference “We have started informal discussions on whether chemicals need to be replaced after being used for some years.”
Without actually knowing exactly the root cause of the airbag inflator defects – with presumed factors being degradation over time and prolonged exposure to humidity – Takata’s regulatory filings and patents also show the company investigates whether ammonium nitrate, the chemical used as propellant to inflate the airbags is actually stable enough for the intended use.