Takata still search­ing for ‘root cause’ of deadly airbags

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

A se­nior of­fi­cial of Ja­panese auto parts maker Takata said Tues­day that the com­pany is still search­ing for the main cause of deadly ex­plo­sions in its airbags.

Kevin Kennedy, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at Takata’s U.S. arm TK Hold­ings, told law­mak­ers that the com­pany has al­ready fo­cused on the pos­si­ble in­sta­bil­ity of the main am­mo­nium ni­trate pro­pel­lant in airbag in­fla­tors in cer­tain con­di­tions.

But that is not the only is­sue, he said, and “we do not have the de­fin­i­tive root cause.”

U. S. leg­is­la­tors pressed the com­pany on why it con­tin­ued to man­u­fac­ture in­fla­tors with the ex­plo­sive chem­i­cal, ar­gu­ing that it ap­pears to be the rea­son why dozens of Takata airbags have in­flated with ex­ces­sive force, pow­er­ing metal shrap­nel into driv­ers and pas­sen­gers, leav­ing at least six dead.

Ten au­tomak­ers are be­ing forced to re­call some 34 mil­lion cars in­side the United States alone to re­place the in­fla­tors.

Kennedy said many of the re­place­ments will use the same chem­i­cal, which ap­pears to be­come un­sta­ble af­ter years of ex­po­sure in hot and hu­mid cli­mates.

Re­search “seems to in­di­cate that am­mo­nium ni­trate is cer­tainly a fac­tor in the in­fla­tor rup­tures,” Kennedy con­ceded. But “There are in­deed many other fac­tors.”

He men­tioned the lack of des­ic­cant to keep the in­fla­tors dry, and the shape of some of the am­mo­nium ni­trate wafers in­side the det­o­na­tors as ad­di­tional fac­tors.

“With­out re­ally ex­actly un­der­stand­ing the root cause and con­tin­u­ing the tests out­side the bound­aries, we’re try­ing to re­ally un­der­stand what the to­tal scope is,” he said.

Kennedy said Takata and other parts mak­ers have stepped up pro­duc­tion of re­place­ment airbags and in­fla­tors to re­duce the dan­gers, but many of those from Takata still use am­mo­nium ni­trate.

Over time, Kennedy said, they will re­place the chem­i­cal with an­other.

“I think over all you will see am­mo­nium ni­trate pro­duc­tion go down,” he said.

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