Takata Modifies Chemical Formula of Propellants in Airbags
The Wall Street Journal reports that Takata has modified the chemical formula of propellants inside their airbags after some were recalled for exploding too forcefully and causing injuries to drivers and passengers. However, a company spokesperson said that the modifications are not in response to any design flaws in previous airbags, nor are they a direct consequence of recalls – rather the company described the modifications as “routine improvements.”
At least four deaths and over 30 injuries in the United States have been linked to the alleged defective deployment of the airbags. The defect has led to a multitude of nation-wide lawsuits, which assert that Takata and several car manufacturers defrauded consumers by concealing crucial information pertaining to the airbags. One possibility for the defect is Takata’s choice to use an unusual explosive chemical, ammonium nitrate, to inflate its airbags in milliseconds, according to auto industry executives. “No other supplier other than Takata has used this ammonium nitrate,” states Jochen Siebert, the managing director of JSC Automotive Consulting in Shanghai.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received statements from several auto manufacturers that they are issuing recalls to address the safety defect. The manufacturers involved in the recall include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi. And according to a recent report by The New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ordered that Takata turn over pertinent records. In particular, the administration has demanded that “Takata turn over records regarding the production, testing and subsequent concerns raised internally and by automakers over the airbags, as well as communications between the company and automakers about defect concerns.”
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