Recall Is Largest, Most Fraudulent in History
The airbag was considered one of the most effective auto safety advances in auto manufacturing history. But over 15 years ago, they began exploding without warning, killing at least six people and seriously injuring at least 139 others. Takata, the company that produced most of them, denied it was at fault.
But pressured by over 100 lawsuits, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), fines, and loss of revenue, Takata admitted its airbags were dangerously defective yesterday. It also agreed to recall another 17 million vehicles. This brings the total number to a shocking 34 million — one out of seven of the vehicles on U.S. roads. Takata still effectively denies that it was at fault.
This is the largest recall in automotive history, surpassing even the G.M.ignition switch debacle. Both companies knew about their defective products for many years and engaged in massive fraud which endangered drivers all over the world. I’ve blogged about these corporate cover-ups and am glad that the public will be better protected.
Takata Aware of the Dangers Since 2000
When there is an impact, gas inside a canister is ignited which rapidly inflates the airbag. Takata’s airbags contained an ammonium nitrate propellant that is commonly used in fertilizer — think back to what happened to the town of West two years ago when it blew up. But it is cheaper to use than the previously used propellant based on tetrazole. Unfortunately, it is highly risk because it is sensive to moisture, obviously a problem in humid states like Texas. The canister can quickly heat up, then violently explodes. This sends sharp metal fragments flying into the interior of the vehicle like shrapnel. The shards of metal can lacerate, blind, or even kill the driver and front seat passenger. Other drivers on the road are obviously at risk if a driver goes out of control. It’s a nightmare waiting to happen.