Japan’s auto safety parts manufacturer Takata Corp. recently agreed with the US auto safety regulator NHTSA to expand its recall of potentially defective airbag inflators, affecting now around 34 million vehicles.
Jumping almost 100 percent from the total of 16.6 million units to 34 million vehicles poses a serious issue – and one that could have fatal results. Industry experts and safety advocates all agree that Takata could need years to complete the record recall of potentially deadly airbags, as the eleven automakers implicated in the safety campaign are gathering the necessary replacement parts from all sources, including Takata’s rivals. Meanwhile, even as the Japanese company and its competitors are hard at work increasing the production of replacement parts, there are millions of autos in the US and around the world that travel with a potentially flawed airbag on board – which could end the life it has to save in the event of a collision.
Since 2008, the Japanese auto safety suppliers and numerous automakers and their brands have been implicated in an escalating safety crisis, with airbag inflators potentially exploding with excessive force, sending inside the cabin at high velocity metal shards and other debris. So far, six fatalities have been linked to the flaw, together with more than 100 injuries. “There weren’t 30 million extra airbag inflators sitting around,” comments Kevin Pollack, vice president for Stericycle ExpertSolutions, a film assisting some of the affected carmakers. According to Takata, the company is ramping up production of the replacement inflators to one million units per month by September, double the current level of 500,000 per month.