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Takata to Change Air Bag Design

Erin King1 year ago

The Takata Corporation has released word that the company is currently in the works of changing the design of its air bags. The announcement comes in light of the recent malfunctions involved with the vehicular devices and a series of recalls.

Takata Executive Testifies Before Congressional Subcommittee

Reuters reports that on Monday, June 1st, the Takata Corporation announced that the company plans to continue manufacturing air bags that contain ammonium nitrate propellant, but plan to change the design of the driver-side air bag inflators.

Takata, a Japanese supplier, has been at the subject of an international recall covering about ten million vehicles involving malfunctions of the company’s air bag devices. 

Recall reports indicate the devices are potentially dangerous – and in some cases, deadly. Air bag inflators can deploy with too much force and rupture, spraying fragments of the devices inside the occupied vehicles.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, Kevin Kennedy, the executive of the corporation, stood in front of a congressional subcommittee and revealed that other companies manufacturing replacements for defective Takata air bag devices will not be using ammonium nitrate. 

Kennedy relayed that Takata is working alongside automakers to develop a new design for the air bag inflators and to create newer versions that do not contain ammonium nitrate, even though Takata still plans to use ammonium nitrate – just less of the volatile compound. 

As of recently, Takata is the only vehicular corporation that continues to use ammonium nitrate in its products.

Background of the Takata Air Bag Recalls

Since 2003, six deaths have been linked to the faulty Takata air bag inflators along with dozens of injuries.

Takata firmly believes that the company’s replacement of driver-side inflators will result in safer outcomes – regardless of the fact that the devices still contain ammonium nitrate.  The company is confident that the devices will be safer even though they still plan to eventually replace them with inflators that do not contain the often volatile compound. 

In May, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) revealed that Takata was aware that propellant waters in the company’s driver-side inflator devices could, over time, experience a change that could lead to “over-aggressive combustion” of the air bag inflating devices when exposed to “high humidity.”

All of the recently recalled air bags contain ammonium nitrate, which clearly appears to be the culprit for the many malfunctions.  The compound is inexpensive compared to others, but is dangerous and deadly when exposed to moisture, which has become a major problem in vehicles. 

Officials are still investigating the root cause of the Takata air bag ruptures and fear that if a cause is not discovered, this problem may rear its ugly head again in the near future.


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