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Takata Airbag Recalls Increases by 35 Million Vehicles

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Washington, DCFederal regulators have announced that an additional 35 million Takata airbags will be recalled across the US, bringing the total recall up to 63 million, more than doubling the largest automotive recall in US history. Similarly, in Canada, several million vehicles will also be recalled.

The massive increase in the recall is prompted by reports of deaths and injuries sustained from the airbags which can explode unexpectedly, sending shrapnel hurtling through a vehicle cabin. At least 11 deaths have been linked to the exploding Takata airbags.

An investigation into the suspected cause of the defect in the airbags showed that Takata’s use of ammonium nitrate, a compound that can become unstable over time or when exposed to moisture, is the cause of the problem. Takata has been aware of the issue for some time and has been working to solve it by adding a drying agent to stabilize the compound. The focus of the new recall is airbags that do not have the drying agent.

According to a report in the New York Times, Scott Upham, founder and chief executive of the automotive consulting firm Valient Market Research, said that the wider recall was an admission by Takata that its use of ammonium nitrate, a cheap, but potent, compound more often used at large-scale sites like coal mines, was a safety risk.

“Finally, there’s enough scientific evidence to point to the humidity issue as affecting the propellant,” Mr. Upham said. “For a long period of time, they denied that ammonium nitrate was to blame. But this does validate there are fundamental issues with the chemical itself.” (NYT)

In May, 2015, Takata announced the initial recall of about 33.8 million vehicles which have their airbags. The new round of recalls to be announced this week was prompted by findings of three separate investigations into the rupture conducted by Honda Motor, the automaker most affected by the recalls; Takata; and a consortium of 10 automakers. (NYT)

Prior to this latest recall, 14 vehicle manufacturers have been affected, with three additional manufacturers now added to the list, namely, Tesla, Jaguar-Land Rover and Fisker.

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