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Insufficient Resources for Full Takata Recall

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Paige Tears-Gladstone2 years ago

Demands for a total recall of vehicles harboring Takata air bags continue in spite of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) declaration that it would not help solve the problem.

Why More Widespread Recalls Are Not Feasible

Not long ago, the government demanded that Takata phase out inflators using ammonium nitrate by 2018, but many worried that the current piecemeal recall approach to the ongoing issue was ineffective. Frustrated lawmakers and safety advocates have recently begun to push for a recall of all vehicles equipped with one of the potentially-deadly Takata airbags.

NHTSA, however, says this sort of recall may be more hazardous than beneficial, according to the Consumerist. This is because such a massive recall would serve only to strain the replacement part process and would result in greater uncertainty and fear amongst consumers about whether or not their vehicles are safe to drive. NHTSA replied to the recall demands saying that the current recall list insures that the vehicles at greatest risk are soonest addressed, and that there are already insufficient replacement part quantities to meet current demands.

According to NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind, about 74% of the replacement inflators for recalled cars are made by non-Takata suppliers. However, for the remainder, the only remedy currently available would be to replace the inflator with a newer version of itself which may also degrade and need to be replaced yet again. In spite of  NHTSA’s comments, many continue to cry out for a total recall.

The Takata Recall Backstory

Takata first announced the air bag fault to the public in April of 2013, stating that the defects had arisen as a result of mishandled and improperly stored propellant chemicals. Initial recalls were limited to humid areas until the November 2014 airbag failure of a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina prompted NHTSA to issue a nationwide recall.

These recalls are due to defective inflator and propellant devices that can improperly deploy in a crash and cause a shrapnel of metal fragments to be catapulted into vehicle occupants. Just last week a group of scientists announced they had confirmed the three factors which are the root of the incidences. These factors are the inclusion of propellant ammonium nitrate, manufacturing issues, and prolonged exposure to humidity.

The group states that these three conditions work in coordination to cause the airbag ruptures. Nine deaths in the United States, 10 worldwide, have been linked to the faulty inflators, with all but one incident involving a Honda model.

Records Show Takata Knew of Issue for Over a Decade

In January 2015, an independent review board led by former U.S. transportation secretary Samuel K. Skinner was formed to look into Takata’s manufacturing process and make recommendations. Internal Takata employee communications came to light in November of 2015 that showed the company was aware of inflator issues as far back as 2000 and had been manipulating their data.

In November, after being made aware of the misrepresented and altered test data, Honda declared they would cease use of any airbag components produced by Takata. They were swiftly joined in this decision by Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and Ford. That month NHTSA also issued Takata a record civil penalty of at least $70 million, but could be responsible for as much as $200 million if further violations are discovered. They also banned

Takata airbag inflators that utilized ammonium nitrate as the propellant from being installed in future cars. They were followed in this ban by Japan’s transport ministry in early-December.


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