Takata is currently recalling 10 million replacement airbag inflators in the United States, the largest ever auto safety recall in history, as U.S. regulators think if the recall should be even wider.
The 10 million inflator recall was revealed on Wednesday, which covers inflators that were a temporary repair. The figure consists of some inflators never installed. Several automakers have already started extra recalls to replace the recalled inflator with an alternative final part.
Other than that, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is evaluating whether to compel the recall of tens of millions of other Takata air bag inflators that have a drying agent. It is also evaluating petitions from General Motors to avoid recalling over 6 million vehicles with Takata inflators.
GM has stated it could cost $1.2 billion if it had to recall those vehicles.
Before Wednesday, 41.6 million U.S. vehicles geared up with 56 million defective Takata airbags have been recalled as the inflators can explode when deployed. About 25 deaths worldwide and over 290 injuries have been associated with defective Takata inflators.
The Takata recalls cover about 100 million inflators among 19 significant automakers globally.
NHTSA states the cause of the inflator explosions that can emit fatal fragments is propellant breaking down following long-term exposure to high-temperature fluctuations and humidity. The vehicle inflators recalled to this day do not have a drying agent.
Under a 2015 consent order, Takata was required to provide data to U.S. regulators by December 31 about whether tens of millions of extra so-called desiccated inflators need to be recalled.
Acting NHTSA Administrator James Owens informed Reuters the agency was checking data on the desiccated inflators and discussing it to automakers.
“We are going to lean in on safety and if we found a safety problem we will immediately take action,” Owens stated, adding that the agency could finalize a decision early this year.
An independent group after five years of testing inflators informed NHTSA in October there was “no immediate safety risk” to the inflators with a drying agent but included that “out of an abundance of caution, we recommend a well-designed monitoring program”.
Owens stated NHTSA may announce new monitoring.