Federal safety regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admnistration (NHTSA) have demanded an expanded recall of the airbags manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata. The recall will include more than 14 million vehicles from 11 different auto manufacturers. Those manufacturers include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. It is believed that Honda models are most affected by the recall. The airbags have a propellant that can cause them to explode when they are deployed during an accident. Metal debris is then sprayed from the casing and can injure the driver and passengers. It is believed that humidity can make the airbags more likely to explode.
The first recall only affected 8 million vehicles in the humid and hot areas of the country. However, recent reports of injuries from all over the country have prompted the NHTSA to demand an expanded recall. Specifically, the NHTSA stated that “a recent driver’s side air bag failure in a vehicle outside the current regional recall area” was similar to previous ruptures in the initial recall. Takata has stated that they are still discussing the terms of the expanded recall with NHTSA.
At least five deaths have been reported due to the faulty airbags. The injuries from the airbags are significant with many reporting that the shards of metal slice passengers similar to shrapnel from explosives. The severity of the injuries has compelled the NHTSA to demand an extensive recall. As David Friedman, the Deputy Administrator of the NHTSA, told the press, “we’re pushing Takata and all affected manufacturers to issue the recall and to ensure the recalls capture the full scope of the problems.”
One of the issues that Takata is facing currently is that there is a limited umber of replacement parts. The company has promised additional productions will start next year. However, without these replacement parts, drivers and passengers may still be at risk.
The past few years has been difficult for automakers, since this recall is coming at the same time as the GM ignition-switch recall. The NHTSA has come under fire, with many claiming that the administration should have known as early as the mid-2000s that the ignition switches were faulty. Additionally, the NHTSA has been operating without an administrator for the past year. David Friedman has been acting as the administrator and the hope is that a new administrator will be elected promptly.