Takata Includes 13.9 Million Vehicles in First Phase of Recall Expansion

Federal regulators are mandating that the company between now and 2019 recall 35-40 million vehicles with airbags that are potentially dangerous

Takata Includes 13.9 Million Vehicles in First Phase of Recall Expansion
Image: Pixabay
May 18, 2016

About 13.9 million vehicles are part of the first phase of a recall expansion for airbag inflators that have caused more than a dozen deaths and more than 100 injuries.

Takata announced the recall following a mandate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that forces the company to recall an additional 35-40 million cars, trucks and SUVs with unsafe airbags.

The recalls will be done in phases between now and December 2019. The first phase announced this week includes three separate recall campaigns that total about 13.9 million vehicles.

"Takata will be working with vehicle manufacturers to determine into which vehicles the affected inflators were installed either as original or replacement equipment during service," writes the agency in its announcements. "As this work progresses, numerous vehicle recalls will likely be announced by the impacted vehicle manufacturers."

The expansion, announced in early May, covers all Takata ammonium nitrate-based propellant front airbag inflators made without a chemical drying agent. After three independent investigations, the agency confirmed that the ammonium nitrate propellant becomes unstable when it degrades. It burns too quickly, rupturing the inflator, sending plastic and metal shrapnel through the airbag toward the driver and passengers. Exposure to heat and humidity exacerbates the problem.

Questions of Cost

Reuters reported earlier this week that since Takata considers this recall investigative, automakers will bear the brunt of the cost. The company is waiting on the conclusion of its own study expected this summer. The company, however, does generally agree with NHTSA that a combination of time, humidity, and fluctuating temperatures contribute to propellant degradation.

Takata could be on the hook for about $9 billion in recall costs if it is found to be solely responsible.