Takata first issued a recall for defective airbags in 2001, which was then followed by a series of recalls involving millions of vehicles from various automakers and eventually led to the bankruptcy of the company.
Approximately 10 million airbags have recently been replaced by Takata (and the company that absorbed it post-bankruptcy), before being in hot water once again for reportedly using replacement airbags with the same defect as the airbags originally installed.
“The parts covered by the latest recall were installed in earlier repairs despite sharing the same basic flaw as the components they were replacing: explosive propellant that can become unstable in hot, humid climates and explode in a crash, spraying vehicle occupants with metal shards. At least 24 deaths and about 300 injuries worldwide have been linked to the lethal airbag defect,” a Bloomberg report stated.
But now, almost two decades later, it looks like the saga is finally coming to a close.
“The components were used because, being newly made, they were seen as a safer alternative to older inflators exposed to years of heat and humidity. The supplier told [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] it was unaware of any examples of the replacement parts exploding after being installed in a vehicle, according to filings with the agency,” the report added.
It appears Takata has finally developed an airbag that does not use ammonium nitrate, which can break down after being exposed to extreme heat.
The latest recalls issued by the NHTSA are the last ones in a series of recalls the agency has ordered as part of Takata’s 2015 settlement with the U.S. government. But if Takata is unable to provide proof “that inflators using ammonium nitrate with a moisture absorbing chemical are safe” by the end of this year, the NHTSA could order another recall.
The massive Takata airbag recall was prompted after it was discovered the airbags could inflate and explode when exposed to extreme heat, releasing shrapnel that have led to two dozen deaths and injuries of hundreds of customers.
According to NHTSA, a total of 34.6 million vehicles have been fixed so far, with 13 million more defective airbags awaiting replacement.