According to Reuters, since 2008 over 17 million cars have been recalled globally for defects in Takata’s air bag inflators. “Five deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to the flaw, which can cause air bags to rupture upon deployment, spraying metal shards inside the car,” Reuters reports. The US division of Takata has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to produce documents on the defects, and the company said it is cooperating.
There are also over 20 class-action lawsuits filed against Takata, as well as congressional scrutiny and a probe from the U.S. auto safety regulator.
The specific issues involve driver side airbag inflators which can explode, sending metal fragments flying, potentially causing injury. According to a statement issued by the NHTSA, the Japanese auto parts maker, Takata, so far has focused its recall on regions with high heat and humidity, a focus that's too narrow.
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"In recent days, Takata has publicly conceded that it changed the chemical mix of its air bag inflator propellant in newly designed inflators. As part of its ongoing investigation, the agency will analyze the information received to determine if the chemical composition of Takata's propellant mix may be a cause and/or contributing factor in the air bag inflator ruptures:
"While NHTSA is not aware of either field incidents or test data suggesting that the problem affecting passenger-side air bags in the areas of persistently high humidity extends beyond those areas, the agency has been pushing the industry to perform testing to ensure that current recalls effectively cover vehicles with air bags that could be potentially affected by this defect."