The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday, Nov. 2, expressed concern about the slow pace of locating and replacing all the defective Takata air bag inflators that are at the highest risk of rupturing, Reuters reported.
But in the wake of reports that Takata Corp. is considering a U.S. bankruptcy filing and seeking a buyer, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind also sought to reassure the public that the automakers bear “ultimate responsibility” for replacing the defective air bags. While speaking with reporters at a conference in Detroit, Rosekind said that NHTSA has several "layers of protection" to ensure all the Takata-related recalls are completed. Nearly 70 million Takata air bag inflators are or will be under recall by 2019.
The air bag inflators at the highest risk of exploding are in the following 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles:
- 2001-2002 Honda Civic
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Acura 3.2CL
- 2003 Honda Pilot.
Tests of the inflators from these roughly 300,000 vehicles indicate rupture rates as high as 50% in a laboratory setting, according to NHTSA.
Because of this heightened risk, Rosekind said, more aggressive action should be taken to complete the repairs in these vehicles as soon as possible. He suggested that might include dispatching mobile repair teams to vehicle owners’ neighborhoods, Reuters reported.
On Oct. 20, NHTSA acknowledged the latest death linked to the defective Takata air bag inflators. It was the 11th confirmed fatality in the U.S. The victim was a 50-year-old woman who suffered fatal injuries after an air bag inflator ruptured during a Sept. 30 crash in Riverside County, Calif. She was driving a 2001 Honda Civic — one of the higher-risk vehicles — that was first recalled in 2008. Records show that the recall repair was never completed, according to NHTSA.
Globally, 16 deaths have been tied to the exploding air bag inflators.