According to an official that spoke on behalf of the company, the Japanese auto safety supplier has opted to change the composition of the airbag propellant used in inflators recalled globally.
A Takata employee, who declined to be identified – though spoke officially for the company – claimed the move to alter the volatile chemical was to increase safety. Recalls of millions of cars worldwide started back in 2008, with 2013-2014 campaigns in the US alone reaching at least 8 million cars. The airbag’s inflator explodes with too much force and shrapnel is prayed inside the cabin at high velocity – five deaths in Honda vehicles have been confirmed so far. One of the directions the ongoing investigations focus on now is the one where the explosive mix could be blamed at least in part for the defect.
The source did not say how the chemicals that make the explosive mix were changed, but confirmed that ammonium nitrate was retained. The upgrade was, according to the person, part of the ongoing “kaizen” process – meaning continuous improvement – that started within the company, with Takata believing the new composition is now safer than before. The new mix has been used by the company in the replacement airbags installed on the vehicles affected by the widespread recalls.