After BMW driver death, Takata recalls 1.4 million more air bags

Takata, the parts supplier behind the largest auto recall ever, told U.S. safety regulators another 1.4 million vehicles need to be repaired over a defect linked to the death of a BMW driver and two other injuries in overseas markets.

File photo (Reuters)
File photo

Components Takata supplied to five of the world’s biggest car manufacturers may absorb moisture that could either cause air bags to rupture or under-inflate, according to a notice on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. The recall involves parts produced from 1995 through 1999 and sold to BMW, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

BMW issued three recalls covering roughly 116,000 U.S. vehicles containing the parts and recommended roughly 8,000 of those should not be driven until they’re fixed, NHTSA said in an emailed statement. The luxury-car maker is aware of one fatality and one injury in Australia linked to the faulty air-bag inflators, plus another injury in Cyprus, according to filings with the agency. The company told NHTSA in November it hadn’t received reports of similar incidents in the U.S.

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The callbacks and fatality disclosed Wednesday are the latest twist in a years-long saga landed Takata in bankruptcy two years ago. The Japanese manufacturer supplied tens of millions of defective air-bag inflators for years that were prone to exploding in a crash and injuring or killing car occupants by spraying metal shards. The company pleaded guilty as part of a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over its handling of the issue.

Past Takata recalls were blamed on its use of ammonium nitrate as a propellant to inflate air bags in the event of a crash. For its latest safety campaign, the company is citing a manufacturing issue that affected inflators containing a non-azide propellant.

The parts maker said it produced and sold 4.45 million of the inflators globally during the time period covered by the recall. According to Takata’s safety recall report to NHTSA, the number of inflators it produced for vehicles sold in the U.S. was “substantially smaller but is not precisely known at this time." Because of the age of the potentially affected vehicles, only a portion remain in service, the company said.

BMW is the only carmaker to have issued vehicle recalls in U.S. over the inflators so far. In the statement, NHTSA said Honda is assessing how many of its cars are potentially affected. Just one Mitsubishi model is affected, and the agency said it’s in discussions with the other automakers.

Audi’s U.S. unit is cooperating with NHTSA and investigating whether some its U.S. vehicles from model years 1997 through 1999 are affected, a spokeswoman said by email.

Takata was purchased in April 2018 by a unit of China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. and the combined unit was renamed Joyson Safety Systems.

First Published Date: 05 Dec 2019, 08:39 AM IST
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