Germany’s Volkswagen AG and electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors are the only automakers in America that have not been involved in the massive safety campaigns triggered by the use of Japan’s Takata Corp. airbags.
Takata, at the center of an ongoing worldwide safety crisis, has been recalling autos since 2008 alongside eleven automakers in the US and worldwide because of flaws with the airbag inflators – which can explode with too much force and send metal debris inside the cabin at high velocity. According to a letter delivered last month to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Volkswagen has received since January 2011 a total of 887,055 airbag inflators and another 184,926 units were delivered to Tesla since January 2012. The two companies are also active customers, with Takata sending the letter in relation to a NHTSA request to state what North American companies use its inflators containing ammonium nitrate propellant. This shows the potential risks for VW and Tesla – the former has already been called to deliver more information regarding a recent rupture in a 2015 VW Tiguan involving a Takata airbag.
Additionally, even if no problems occur, both companies could enter the list of recalling firms if the ongoing probes will highlight that ammonium nitrate compounds are unsafe to use. Takata so far has said the chemical, used as propellant for the inflators, is among the wide array of contributing factors to the defective airbags that have been tied to eight fatalities and 130 injuries globally. In the US alone the recalls have spread across 32 million vehicles – the biggest single product recall ever.