The Japanese auto safety supplier Takata is going through a major crisis because of its problematic airbag inflators – and the US auto safety regulators now have both good and bad news.
Since 2008 the Japanese auto parts manufacturer and eleven of its automotive partners have recalled millions of potentially defective vehicles to replace flawed airbag inflators that could explode with too much force, rupture and spread metal debris and other shrapnel inside the cabin at high velocity. The deadly defect has been tied to at least eight fatalities and more than one hundred injuries and has triggered extensive recall campaigns around the world. In the US the safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently said the initial safety campaign for the issue will cover a significantly lower vehicle count because they originally miscounted the total. That would have been great news for the auto parts producer after it was almost the recipient of the largest single product recall “title” in the country.
But the joy could be short lived. The NHTSA has also announced it has initiated another investigation that could add other millions of vehicles using Takata’s components because of new reports of possibly dangerous issues. More importantly, the potential upcoming recall would not only cover the older models, but also millions of newer autos. And the new NHTSA investigation is also wider, researching a wider array of airbags, including side-impact restraints, instead of just frontal units from the original Takata safety campaigns. The current US recall covers eleven automakers and instead of 34 million driver and passenger airbags it will replace “just” 23.4 million airbags found in 19.2 million autos.