US auto safety regulators announced recently they could further expand their investigation into Takata’s malfunctioning airbag inflators beyond the known 11 automakers, with questions now regarding vehicle design also popping up when trying to determine the role of the devices into becoming a deadly hazard to the public.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator Mark Rosekind announced the agency was ready to include more auto producers to the consent order agreed with Japan’s auto safety supplier Takata back in May. He added that certain carmakers should also move quicker when they start to suspect a potential issue. On Thursday the NHTSA is expected to build a public case that it should coordinate the Takata recall to make sure around 3.4 million airbag inflators fitted to 19.2 million US autos and belonging to 11 automotive manufacturers would be properly replaced. “We’ll try to be very specific on Thursday but it goes beyond the 11,” commented Rosekind. “All of these are fitting under the investigation we currently have. And we’ll be talking about all of those,” he added.
The airbag inflators, which have been recalled since as far back as 2008, have been responsible for at least eight fatalities and more than 100 injuries globally as they can deploy with too much force, rupture and send metal shrapnel and other debris at high speed inside the cabin. Back in August news broke out about Volkswagen being asked by the US regulators to provide info on a Takata side airbag rupture in a 2015 VW Tiguan – a different pattern from the rest of the cases which involved older models and only the front airbags.