Airbags have been designed to save lives – but as recent recalls show, one company could unfortunately have produced airbags that do the exact opposite – causing harm and even loss of lives.
Although it’s four years older than Toyota – Takata Corp has come to widespread attention in recent years when a string of recalls for products made in its factories started. The little-known Japanese company has been a primary supplier to automakers such as Toyota, Honda and GM for around two decades. But since 2008, millions of vehicles have been called back because the airbags had potentially defective inflators that would send shrapnel and metal debris flying through the cabin at high velocity. This year alone close to 8 million vehicles have been recalled for the flaw in the US.
The Takata produced airbags have been linked so far to four deaths and more than 30 injuries in America, where a NHTSA investigation is now in full swing. The vehicles from 10 manufacturers have been recalled because in high humidity regions they could easily break down and malfunction in the event of an accident. US federal probes are still ongoing, but many industry experts think they would focus on Takata’s decision to use an unusual explosive as the chemical that needs to inflate the airbag in mere milliseconds. The Japanese auto safety parts maker also acknowledged that it dealt for years with quality control issues at its production facility in Mexico.