airbag

A new round of recall has been issued by US regulators. It comprises of some five million vehicles with potentially defective airbags supplied by Takata, Reuters reports. With that, the number of airbag inflator recalls will have ballooned to 28 million (over 24 million vehicles affected) according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The death of a driver in an American-market 2006 Ford Ranger pick-up back in December 2015 in the US, along with new tests performed on suspected faulty airbags, are factors which triggered the recall. Brands affected for the first time include Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Saab. Other car brands that will also be taking part in the new recall include Ford, Honda and BMW.

Of the total number, five million vehicles in the new recall are related to the driver-side airbags, and about one million in the new recall have inflators similar to those in the Ranger, according to the NHTSA. In addition to that, Honda vehicles that shared the same inflators as the Ranger has been recalled as well.

Some four million other vehicles will be recalled for additional testing of Takata driver-side airbags – brands include Honda and Volkswagen. In November last year, the agency said that tens of millions vehicles with inflators that contain the ammonium nitrate propellant will be recalled by 2018 – if Takata cannot prove that the inflators are safe.

SRS-Airbag

“This is a massive safety crisis,” said Gordon Trowbridge, spokesperson of the NHTSA. Trowbridge added that the fatality brought about a reassessment that needed “immediate action.” The death, which happened in South Carolina, was the ninth case in the US and the first of which occurred in a vehicle not made by Honda.

Interestingly, the NHTSA noted that before the incident, tests were conducted on 1,900 inflators in the Ranger. The outcome of these tests showed that there were no issues whatsoever.

“(It) sheds light on the risks of having a supplier be the source for so many cars across so many companies,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan. He added that because of the crisis, the NHTSA may need to force testing standards for common components.

Already 12 automakers have recalled more than 19 million vehicles with over 23 million Takata airbag inflators inside. Towards the end of 2015, Takata was slapped with a Consent Order that includes a USD$200 million (RM857 million) fine, in the US. Major brands that have stopped using airbag inflators from the embattled company, include Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Honda and more recently, Ford.