Another 5 million vehicles recalled due to Takata airbags

A car fitted with Takata airbags, subject to a huge product recall. Image courtesy of Takata Corp.
A car fitted with Takata airbags, subject to a huge product recall. Image courtesy of Takata Corp.

The ongoing Takata airbag recall, already the world’s largest, is set to get bigger following the recall of 5 million more vehicles by US regulators.

This latest recall was triggered by the death of the driver of a Ford Ranger pickup truck alleged to be caused by a Takata airbag.

Following this death, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall of at least 1 million vehicles containing the same airbag installed within the Ford Ranger.

As well, the NHTSA also announced a recall for at least 4 million other vehicles made by manufacturers such as VW and Honda for additional testing.

With this latest recall, the total number of recalled airbags will now reach 28 million, affecting at least 24 million individual vehicles.

The death itself occurred on December 22 in the US state of South Carolina, with an SC attorney claiming in a complaint filed with the NHTSA “metal from the inflator canister exploded penetrating my client’s neck resulting in death”.

Should this death be confirmed to be the result of a Takata airbag inflator, it would be the 10th such death linked to these devices.

Takata recall continues to expand

Primarily, the defects relate to the use of ammonium nitrate explosive in airbag inflators, an unstable material which was allegedly mishandled during manufacturing.

Due to this mishandling, these inflators can explode with excessive force, spraying cars with shrapnel and killing or injuring the vehicles’ occupants.

In November last year, Takata was fined $70m by the US government for their safety violations, and could face further fines of $130m into the future should they fail to make NHTSA commitments.

As well, the NHTSA will recall all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators currently on the road by 2018 unless the company can prove they are safe. Should they fail to do this, they recall would amount to tens of millions more vehicles.

Prior to these events, Takata produced around 20% of all airbags used worldwide, however the resulting fallout from these recalls has seen major manufacturers such as Honda and Ford stop using its products and Toyota to investigate alternative suppliers.

These events have hammered Takata’s stock price with the company trading down at least 10% since the latest recall announcement.