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Injury Allegations Tied to Defective Air Bags Climb

May 04, 2015

NELSON
NELSON

Allegations of six deaths and 105 injuries are now linked to the defective air bag inflators manufactured by Takata Corp., U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) reported last week.

According to a Bloomberg report, the updated tallies were noted in documents that Takata Corp. submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Nelson is a ranking member. Earlier reports had mentioned allegations of five deaths and 64 injuries.

Nelson gave a presentation updating committee members on April 27.

Since 2008, 10 automakers have recalled about 17 million Takata air bag-equipped vehicles in the U.S. The air bag inflators can rupture when they deploy, and the resulting shrapnel can injure vehicle occupants.

In 2014, five automakers – BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Mazda – launched national recalls for defective driver-side air bags. Those five, plus General Motors, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, are also recalling vehicles for defective passenger-side air bags in areas with consistently high absolute humidity.

During his presentation, Nelson stressed the importance of quickly replacing the defective air bag inflators with replacement parts verified as safe by an independent third party.

In March, Takata said it planned to double its production of replacement inflators in the next six months to meet global demand created by safety recalls.

The root cause of the defect in the faulty air bag inflators is still not entirely clear. The risk of explosion, however, seems to be highest in areas with absolute humidity.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, Honda confirmed it is now relying on additional auto parts suppliers to help meet demand for replacement air bag inflators.

“Due to the size of the campaigns to replace Takata inflators, we also worked to increase the supply of replacement parts and succeeded in securing three additional suppliers – TRW, Daicel and Autoliv – that are now supplying us with inflators,” said Bruce Smith, American Honda Motor Co.’s senior vice president of the parts, service and technical division. “This will help accelerate the pace of repairs in the coming months.”

Smith’s comments were part of a presentation he made at a safety recalls workshop, held April 28 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

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