By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario -- September 29, 2015 -- More automakers may have to issue recalls related to air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., according to letters sent last week by the US-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The defective inflators can explode with too much force, possibly spraying bits of metal into the passenger compartment. To date, the defective inflators have killed eight people and injured hundreds more. Around 23.4 million Takata inflators have been recalled so far, with 11 different manufacturers affected. The NHTSA sent the letters to Jaguar-Land Rover, Suzuki, Volvo Trucks, Tesla, Volkswagen, Spartan Motors and Mercedes-Benz. The regulatory agency is seeking information on which vehicles might have the defective inflators.
The letter reads, in part: “It is expected that the scope of the current Takata recalls may expand as time goes on and will likely grow to include vehicles that are outside the scope of the current recalls.''
One purpose of the letters is to help NHTSA determine how many vehicles may need to be recalled. A public meeting set for October 22 will examine the ongoing Takata investigation, and seek to answer whether NHTSA will take over management of the recalls. As part of this effort, the agency is asking each of the seven automakers to identify which models use Takata inflators with ammonium nitrate propellant.
The letters also outline that Takata believes the problem is caused by degradation of the chemical propellant over time. This “could potentially lead to overaggressive combustion or potentially cause the inflator to rupture.” Temperature and exposure to airborne moisture may also be factors.
According to a report issued by Associated Press, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Jaguar-Land Rover have indicated that the Takata airbags used in their vehicles are not part of current recalls.