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FCA Phases Out Defective Takata Air Bags

June 21, 2016

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler’s passenger-side air bag inflator is the final FCA US air-bag component to migrate from a non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate design. Photo courtesy of FCA US.
The 2016 Jeep Wrangler’s passenger-side air bag inflator is the final FCA US air-bag component to migrate from a non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate design. Photo courtesy of FCA US.

FCA US announced plans to cease North American production of vehicles equipped with Takata air bag inflators that use an ammonium-nitrate propellant and lack a chemical drying agent, or desiccant, to counteract environmental moisture.

Production of FCA US vehicles using such air bag inflators in the NAFTA market will come to a halt by next week, and global production is expected to end by mid-September, the company said in a released statement.

Earlier this month, a Senate Commerce Committee report drew media attention when it revealed that four automakers — FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) US, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen — confirmed that at least some of their new vehicles were equipped with non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate air bag inflators from Takata.

The 2016 Jeep Wrangler’s passenger-side inflator is the final FCA US air-bag component to migrate from a non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate design. The automaker said it’s unaware of any failures involving this inflator.

Most inflators used in FCA US vehicles employ alternate propellants. Others use desiccant-enhanced ammonium nitrate. Neither is associated with any inflator ruptures of the kind attributed to certain non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate inflators, the company said.

“In addition, tests were performed on nearly 6,300 older versions of this component, many of which were subject to potentially problematic environmental conditions,” FCA US said. “All performed as intended.”

Unsold vehicles equipped with Takata’s non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate air bag inflators will be identified for customers, FCA US said. Further, customers will also be advised that the vehicles will be recalled by the end of 2019. They aren’t currently subject to recall, however.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a five-phase recall schedule for vehicles equipped with Takata’s non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate air bag inflators. The schedule is based on level of risk, determined by the age of the inflators and exposure to high humidity and fluctuating high temperatures. These are factors that contribute to the ammonium-nitrate propellant’s degradation, which can lead to the inflator’s rupture upon air bag deployment. The risk of inflator rupture slowly builds over the course of years.

In the U.S., exploding Takata air bag inflators have been linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries.

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