The beat of the Takata recalls goes on. Automakers in the United States and Canada ordered the recall of another 1.5 million vehicles to replace front passenger-side airbag inflators. The latest action is another in a series of rolling safety recalls.
The most recent recalls are part of an effort to call back every vehicle with potentially faulty Takata airbag inflators installed. When it finishes, by the end of 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have overseen the recall of about 69 million faulty airbag inflators. Worldwide, the recall will affect millions of more vehicles.
The latest U.S. automakers to have posted recalls include:
- Daimler Vans
- Jaguar Land Rover
Takata pleaded guilty last week closing the criminal phase of what has become history’s largest safety recall. In addition to the guilty plea, Takata agreed to pay penalties of $1 billion that will be used for manufacturer and victim compensation. Ken Fineberg, an expert on compensation, who most recently oversaw the disbursement of $565 million in funds relating the GM ignition switch scandal, was suggested as the overseer of payments from the $850 million penalty fund set up by the airbag manufacturer’s agreement. The settlement also set up a $150 million fund for consumers.
In the meantime, a grand jury indicted three former Takata executives on six counts of fraud and conspiracy. The executives are in Japan, and Justice Department officials hope to extradite them to the U.S. for trial.
In a second major North American recall, 13 Canadian automakers recalled a total of 900,000 airbags. According to Automotive News, most of the vehicles recalled in Canada are Honda, as well as Toyota and Ford. To this point, 5.2 million vehicles have been called back in Canada.
By the end of 2019, when all of the planned recalls have completed, as many as 69 million inflators will have been recalled. The faulty inflators have been linked to 16 deaths worldwide, 11 in the United States. Also, the inflators injured 184 people seriously when the airbags deployed with too much force. Propellant deterioration caused the overpressure blasts.
The degradation – moisture intrusion – was caused by poor factory sealing allowing the moisture to penetrate the ammonium nitrate propellant. As the ammonium nitrate explodes with too much power, the device housing shatters, sending its shards scything through the passenger compartment like pieces of shrapnel – with the same effect.