Takata to recall 40 million more airbags in US

Takata Image copyright Getty Images

Japanese airbag maker Takata has been forced to increase a recall after US authorities said they found further safety defects in its products.

On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded its existing recall.

The expansion adds 35 to 40 million airbag inflators to the recall list and affects vehicles from 12 carmakers and more than doubles the existing recall.

Takata inflators have been linked to 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries.

"Today's action is a significant step in the US Department of Transportation's aggressive oversight of Takata on behalf of drivers and passengers across America," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

"The acceleration of this recall is based on scientific evidence and will protect all Americans from airbag inflators that may become unsafe."

Takata has already been forced to recall 28.8 million inflators.

In a statement on its website Takata's chief executive apologised "for the concern caused to the driving public, our business partners and our shareholders by the extensive market recalls of vehicles fitted with Takata airbags".

The message said the company was "providing complete support" for the recall and working to "restore trust" in the company's products.

This latest recall chips away further at Takata's credibility with carmakers.

"What the carmakers are doing is reaching out to their other airbag makers to provide replacement parts rather than Takata," Scott Upham, chief executive of Valient Market Research, told the BBC.

"I think the goal is to really get Takata completely out of the loop," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the recall was a "significant step" in protecting drivers

Airbag inflators

The recall targets airbag inflators that may explode with too much force and shoot metal debris at the driver and passengers.

Takata uses ammonium nitrate to fill its airbags with air in a crash. Most other airbag makers use guanidine nitrate, which is less volatile.

Takata switched to ammonium nitrate in 2001, saying it produced gas more efficiently. Takata has denied accusations that that switch was cost related.

"The science clearly shows that these inflators become unsafe over time, faster when exposed to humidity and variations of temperature," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.


The latest death confirmed to be linked to Takata was in Texas, where a 17-year-old girl was killed after being in a relatively minor crash in her family's 2002 Honda Civic.

On Wednesday, Malaysian authorities said two people had died in recent car crashes in which Takata airbags exploded with too much force. They have yet to definitively link the deaths to the airbags.

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