Takata recall could reach 120 million vehicles

The biggest recall to date shows no sign of settling down. Our previous estimate of affected vehicles was of 53 million units, but things have got much worse. Reuters informs that, besides the 29 million vehicles already recalled in the world, U.S. auto safety regulators may require corrections in an additional 70 million to 90 million automobiles equipped with Takata airbags. We really do not know how any company is able to survive such a huge recall campaign. Nor how they have allowed things to get this bad.

Takata has supplied defective airbags to BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru,Volkswagen and Toyota. The main effect of the defect are airbags that send metal shrapnels when deployed. Almost like bullets towards the passengers it should protect. At least 10 people have been killed by these deadly shrapnels, with more than 100 people injured by them. So far.

The car companies have hired Orbital ATK to examine the defective airbags and there are at least 4 main causes for the problem: ammonium nitrate, moisture absorption, high temperatures and poor assembly of the inflators. Takata uses ammonium nitrate to cause the deployment of the airbags, but it tends to absorb water from humid air. And Takata has not used any sort of dessicant to keep it dry. When humid, the ammonium nitrate can explode in high temperatures, what explains why most accidents have happened in hot weather regions. Besides that, the inflators have been poorly assembled, what made ammonium nitrate more exposed to humid air and moisture.

The problem may be even bigger considering the other countries that have been affected by the defective airbags from Takata but do not investigate the hazard. Mostly developing countries that have not developed a sense of protecting their citizens. After all, traffic kills many every year, but it is much easier to blame drivers. And it requires no investigation.

 

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.