Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Explainer: Why investigators are still probing Takata air bag inflators

Stock MarketsSep 21, 2021 07:56PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A recalled Takata air bag inflator is seen just before being removed from a Jeep in Boulder, Colorado United States July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By David Shepardson and Paul Lienert

(Reuters) - Why are U.S. auto safety regulators opening a new investigation into Takata air bag inflators installed in millions of vehicles built over the past 20 years?

Some of those vehicles have the original inflators that were installed when they were manufactured and some have inflators installed as replacements in vehicles previously recalled. In certain situations, mainly long exposure to extreme heat and humidity, those inflators can unexpectedly rupture, sending metal shrapnel through the vehicle cabin, with the potential to cause injuries and deaths.

What is an "inflator"?

An air bag inflator is a small explosive device designed to ignite in a split second in a vehicle crash, then rapidly fill a large cushion with inert gas to help shield and protect occupants from serious injury.

A family-run Japanese company called Takata, now controlled by China’s Joyson Electronic Corp, started supplying air bags to auto companies around the world in the late 1980s.

Takata inflators made since the late 1990s use a powerful chemical, ammonium nitrate, as a propellant. When that chemical is exposed over long periods to moisture and heat, it tends to break down and become volatile and potentially explosive.

When did Takata know?

Takata learned of the first inflator rupture in 2003. Some of the company’s managers learned of additional inflator ruptures after that. Some test report data was altered by Takata employees to hide this from Takata’s automaker customers.

The first Takata-related recall - of 4,000 Honda Accords and Civics - was announced in 2008. Over the next five years, Honda Motor Co, Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) Corp, Nissan (OTC:NSANY) Motor Co, Mazda Motor (OTC:MZDAY) Corp and BMW AG recalled nearly 4 million U.S. vehicles for inflator ruptures, a total that grew to more than 10 million by 2014 and eventually 67 million in 2016.

Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and Japan in 2017.

Over the last decade, more than 100 million vehicles with Takata air bag inflators have been recalled worldwide. Of the U.S. recalls, about 50 million have had repairs or replacements.

There have been at least 28 deaths worldwide, including 19 in the United States, and more than 400 injuries tied to faulty Takata inflators.

The latest investigation

To help mitigate issues with ammonium nitrate, Takata in 2015 agreed to start building original-equipment and replacement inflators with a drying agent, called a desiccant, to absorb excess moisture.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there have been no reported ruptures in vehicles on the road with air bag inflators with the drying agent.

The agency in September 2021 said it “wants to evaluate the future risk” of inflators made with desiccant and installed in vehicles that have not been recalled.

The new investigation includes vehicles assembled by Honda, Ford Motor (NYSE:F) Co, Toyota, General Motors Co (NYSE:GM), Nissan, Subaru (OTC:FUJHY), Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc, Ferrari NV (NYSE:RACE), Mazda, Daimler AG (DE:DAIGn), BMW, Chrysler (now part of Stellantis NV ), Porsche Cars and Jaguar Land Rover (owned by Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM)), among others.

NHTSA said its investigation "will require extensive information on Takata production processes and surveys of inflators in the field."

Explainer: Why investigators are still probing Takata air bag inflators
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email