Takata says redesigning some air bag inflators after deaths, massive recalls
Japan’s Takata said it would redesign some driver-side air bag inflators, in the latest chapter of a global auto parts scandal linked to six deaths and the recall of millions of vehicles.
In prepared testimony to be delivered to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, Kevin Kennedy, executive vice president at Takata’s American arm TK Holdings, said the company is pushing ahead to replace faulty air bag inflators, after U.S. auto safety regulators ordered the recall of nearly 34 million vehicles.
Six deaths have been tied shrapnel from the explosive bags.
Kennedy said “most” injuries and all the fatalities have involved an older version of its driver air bag inflator and that the firm was working on replacing the part. to air
“Takata has ... committed cease producing these types driver inflators,” he said.
“And we are working with our automaker partners to transition to newer versions of driver inflators in our replacement kits, or inflators made by other suppliers that do not contain ammonium nitrate propellant.”
Takata has acknowledged that high humidity can affect the to of chemical agent “in certain circumstances,” which can result in air bags deploying with excessive explosive force — sending dangerous shrapnel into people the air bags are intended to protect.
It added that other factors, including manufacturing, could also be involved. But the company said it would continue using ammonium nitrate.
“We are going to continue using ammonium nitrate, while we will change the design of the driverside air bag inflators,” a Tokyobased company spokesman told AFP.
“We have received questions from the media about some confusion in (Kennedy’s) statement, but we have no plan to change the chemical,” he added.
Last month, Takata admitted for the first time that its air bags installed in the cars of 11 major automakers worldwide are defective.
It agreed with the U.S. Department of Transportation to replace air bags or air bag inflators in all cars and trucks in the U.S. equipped with them, in what will amount to the largest-ever vehicle recall.
Recalls will focus first on cars in Hawaii and southern states, where the climate could be exacerbating the problem.
Kennedy stressed that the company believed the new replacement inflators, being manufactured by Takata as well as other suppliers, are fully safe.
“I want to emphasize that we have confidence in the inflators we are producing today ... We believe that, properly manufactured and installed, these inflators will work as designed to save lives.”