Another 10 million airbag inflators made by now-defunct Takata Corp. must be repaired in what could be the last major wave of the auto industry’s largest-ever safety recall crisis.
The callback disclosed on Wednesday represents the final phase in a series of scheduled recalls covering of tens of millions of the defective parts that the now-bankrupt auto supplier agreed to undertake in a 2015 settlement, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The parts covered by the latest recall were installed in earlier repairs despite sharing the same basic flaw as the components they were replacing: explosive propellant that can become unstable in hot, humid climates and explode in a crash, spraying vehicle occupants with metal shards. At least 24 deaths and about 300 injuries worldwide have been linked to the lethal airbag defect.
The components were used because, being newly made, they were seen as a safer alternative to older inflators exposed to years of heat and humidity. The supplier told NHTSA it was unaware of any examples of the replacement parts exploding after being installed in a vehicle, according to filings with the agency. Later versions of Takata’s components used a chemical drying agent and several automakers have switched to alternative designs from other companies that don’t share the same defect as the Takata parts.
The parts recalled on Wednesday were supplied to 14 automakers for their U.S. vehicles, including Honda Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and BMW AG. Some automakers have already announced their share of the recalls. Also on Wednesday, Subaru Corp.’s U.S. unit said it would recall roughly 500,000 vehicles in the county to replace the components, it told NHTSA.
Fiat Chrysler began fixing the affected parts in its vehicles in 2015 and no additional recalls will stem from Takata’s latest action, a spokesman for the automaker said.
Takata was purchased in April 2018 by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. and renamed Joyson Safety Systems.
Some 34.6 million inflators have been repaired while 12.8 million defective parts remained on the road as of mid-November, NHTSA said.