By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — August 19, 2015 — Already suffering the effects of the world’s largest recall, Japanese airbag maker Takata is now facing new concerns about a 2011 airbag deployed in a US-based accident of a Volkswagen.
Mainstream media outlets are reporting that federal investigators are now investigating airbags installed on a VW SUV that experienced a ruptured inflator. The investigation stems from a June collision between a Tiguan SUV and a deer. The side air bag inflated with far too much force. The accident triggered a federal investigation, which is now raising questions about the safety of air bags made by Takata after those involved in the earlier recall.
Previously Takata said the problem in its products was limited to older designs in front and passenger air bags. But Volkswagen told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the crash on July 15. The agency began investigating. Last week it sent orders to Takata and VW seeking information on the crash. The companies have until August 24 to reply.
The investigation could revolve around airbags that use ammonium nitrate as a propellant to inflate the bags. The problem could be an isolated manufacturing problem. But taking Takata’s history into account some worry a whole other piece to the Takata recall is emerging. “It’s a scary thing,” a source was quoted as saying in a mainstream media report. “Are we still seeing the tip of the iceberg here?”
Takata, no surprise, insists the Tiguan case is unrelated to any previous incidents. Let’s hope so. If the problem is ammonium nitrate in general this recall could spread yet. One interesting twist to this story: Takata says most of the airbag problems in the US happened in very humid areas along the U.S. Gulf Coast.