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Takata recalls 2.7m air bags that have drying agent

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 11:07

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Takata Corp will recall an additional 2.7 million airbag inflators in the US after they concluded they could explode in a crash despite using a chemical additive to ensure their safety.

[WASHINGTON] Takata Corp will recall an additional 2.7 million airbag inflators in the US after they concluded they could explode in a crash despite using a chemical additive to ensure their safety.

The inflators were made from 2005 through 2012 and installed in vehicles manufactured by Nissan Motor, Mazda Motor Corp and Ford Motor, according to a recall notice posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. Takata, which filed for bankruptcy in June, didn't identify the vehicle models affected in the notice.

Some 68 million Takata inflators are already set to be recalled through 2019 because they may explode in a crash and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. Honda Motor Co on Monday confirmed the 11th death linked to the defect in one of its cars in the US. Takata airbag ruptures are now linked to 18 deaths worldwide.

In the worst case, abnormal rupture of inflators that have a desiccant might spur a recall of 130 million air bags worldwide, and automakers might incur about 1.5 trillion yen (S$17.9 billion) in recall costs, Takaki Nakanishi, an analyst at Jefferies Group LLC, estimates in a note to clients this week.

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Mounting liabilities from the recalls pushed Takata to seek court protection from creditors to facilitate a sale of most of its assets to rival supplier Key Safety Systems Inc.

Takata shares rose as much as 58 per cent to 71 yen before trading at 67 yen as of 9.30am in Tokyo trading Wednesday. Trading volume was triple the 3-month full-day average.

The recall disclosed on Tuesday covers inflators using calcium sulfate as a desiccant. In the recall notice, Takata said it is unaware of any ruptured inflators that use a desiccant in vehicles on the road or in lab testing. The previous recalls focused on inflators without desiccants.

However, after analysing the inflators involved in the latest recall, Takata said some showed "a pattern of propellant density reduction over time that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture."

Takata began using a "much stronger" desiccant called zeolite in 2008 to stop inflators from deteriorating, Kikko Takai, a spokeswoman for Takata said Wednesday by phone. The recall announced Tuesday in the US covers all inflators that used calcium sulfate, she said.

Years of exposure to hot, humid climates can cause the ammonium nitrate propellant used in Takata inflators to become unstable and ignite with too much force when they deploy in a crash. Takata for years has made some of its inflators with a chemical desiccant to keep the ammonium nitrate propellant dry.

Takata said the defect notice disclosed today only applies to the earliest version of desiccated inflators that use calcium sulfate and that later versions use different formulations.

Under a 2015 consent order with NHTSA, Takata may be required to recall all desiccated inflators unless it is able to prove to the agency that parts are safe by the end of 2019, potentially adding several million more airbags to the recalls.

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