Report: Takata may face recall of 90M more air bags

Craig Trudell and Ma Jie
Bloomberg News

U.S. auto safety regulators are determining whether 70 million to 90 million more Takata Corp. air bag inflators should be recalled, Reuters reported, potentially expanding the industry’s broadest ever safety crisis.

The inflators built with a chemical propellant called ammonium nitrate may be recalled because they endanger drivers, Reuters reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is investigating all Takata inflators using ammonium nitrate and hasn’t found enough evidence to direct automakers to recall additional inflators, spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told Reuters. Trowbridge didn’t immediately respond to an email sent outside normal business hours.

Takata is cooperating fully with regulators and its customers, and continues to test inflators, build replacement air bag kits and raise consumer awareness of recalled vehicles, spokesman Hideyuki Matsumoto said. He declined to say how many inflators with ammonium nitrate Takata has produced.

NHTSA said in November it no longer had confidence in the safety of ammonium nitrate propellant, which has been under scrutiny as Takata inflators have ruptured and sprayed shards of metal and plastic at motorists. The most recent expansion of recalls, announced last month, brought the total number of inflators recalled to more than 28 million, according to NHTSA’s website.

Honda Motor Co., Takata’s biggest customer and a minority shareholder, is not aware of whether 90 million more air bags need to be replaced, spokeswoman Yuka Abe said. The automaker’s priority is to find out the root cause of the air bag inflator ruptures and replace them as soon as possible, she said.

The Associated Press last week cited unidentified experts saying there could be as many as 50 million Takata air bag inflators in cars that have yet to be called back for repairs.