Takata airbag issue may cause biggest-ever car recall

17th Jan 2017 10:57 am

Around 10 crore cars set to be recalled after Takata reveals potentially lethal problems with its airbag's detonator systems.

Around 10 crore  (100 million) cars from at least 13 manufacturers are set to be recalled internationally after airbag supplier Takata conceded that it had hidden evidence of potentially lethal issues with its detonator system.

Last week Takata agreed to pay US$ 1 billion (Rs 6,800 crore) in penalties - made up of a US$ 25 million fine, US$ 125 million compensation for people injured or killed by the airbags and US$ 850 million to carmakers that used them.

At least 12 deaths and 180 injuries have been attributed to the faults. The potential fault was first raised in 2006, when Takata officials conceded that some of its airbag inflators expanded with too much force and sprayed metal shrapnel into cars. However, the full extent of the issue is only now coming to light.

"For more than a decade, Takata repeatedly and systematically falsified critical test data related to the safety of its products, putting profits and production schedules ahead of safety," said Andrew Weissmann, head of the US Justice Department's fraud section. Around 4.2 crore (42 million) cars are believed to be affected in the US, with the rest spread around the world.
Honda has the most vehicles affected, while other brands to have used Takata airbags include Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Daimler, Dodge, Ferrari, Fisker, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury,

Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Ram, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen. Individual manufacturers will contact owners of affected vehicles to have the fault rectified free of charge.

The issue is more significant in some regions of the world than others, because humid conditions are believed to be the most significant factor in triggering the airbag deployment explosive inadvertently. In the US, government officials have urged owners of affected cars not to turn off their airbag systems, if they have the option, reasoning that unintended deployment of the airbag is rare, and that it is better that it is triggered in the event of an accident.

The 10 biggest recalls by manufacturer

These are believed to be the largest recalls by manufacturer, although global recall data is inconsistently collated and recall numbers by component suppliers aren’t widely collated. However, US safety authorities have indicated the Takata recall will be the biggest triggered by a supplier in automotive history.

AutomakerUnits recalledYearIssue
Ford 21 million1980Parking issue
Ford14.9 million 1999-2009Cruise control switch fires
Toyota9 million2010Sudden acceleration issue
Volkswagen8.5 million2016Emission scandal
Ford7.9 million1996Ignition switch fire issue
Toyota7.4 million2012Electric window issue
General Motors6.7 million1971Sudden acceleration issue
General Motors5.8 million1981Rear suspension bolt issue
General Motors5.8 million2014Ignition switch issue
Honda5.4 million2014Airbag issue

Jim Holder (Autocar UK)

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