With the Japanese Transportation Ministry saying there would likely be a shortage of airbags next year in that country as Toyota, Nissan and Honda expand their recalls of vehicles equipped with Takata-made airbag inflators, two U.S. senators yesterday asked that the airbag manufacturer recall all vehicles equipped with their safety devices.
The Japanese Transportation Ministry’s Masato Sahashi told Bloomberg News yesterday that with its three major automakers adding 7.3 million vehicles to the numbers already recalled under the continuing faulty airbag inflator recall it is likely that there will be a shortage of replacement airbags next year. “If we include the preemptive recalls, we are unable to secure all the replacement parts necessary,” Sahashi said in an interview in Tokyo. “We may be facing a shortage of replacement kits down the road.” Sahashi heads the transport ministry’s recall enforcement program.
Toyota, Nissan and Honda have recently stepped up precautionary recalls of vehicles with Takata-made airbags. While concentrating on swapping the airbags out of older vehicles now, the trio have pushed the total number of their vehicles impacted by the recall to 9.8 million. Takata is relying on three of its primary competitors, Autoliv, Daicel and ZF TRW to fill in the void.
Meantime, yesterday, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., called on Takata to expand the recall of vehicles affected by faulty airbag inflators following a June report of an airbag fault in a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan. Volkswagen, so far, has remained out of the airbag recall loop, although there are signs that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may include VW and electric carmaker Tesla in a further expanded airbag inflator recall. That information was included in Automotive News.
Because the June incident did not follow the pattern already established by the millions of vehicles aleady under recall, Blumenthal and Markey, outspoken critics of Takata at hearings of the Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Commerce in June and strong advocates of tough auto safety regulations, made their call yesterday. In the major June recall, now the largest in U.S. history, vehicles manufactured by 11 major automakers were recalled due to faulty airbag inflators. The faulty inflators burst apart on deployment, scything shards of metal through passenger compartments. So far, there are eight confirmed deaths and more than 100 injuries due to this failure. The failure has been attributed, according to ongoing investigations, to deteriorating propellant. Takata uses ammonium nitrate which degrades on exposure to moisture. The degraded propellant explodes with too much force, causing the broken inflators.
Takata did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment, said the financial news service today.