Recent news about Takata has been good and bad.
According to an NBC News report, U.S. safety regulators announced that the recall linked to potentially deadly frontal airbags will be smaller than originally predicted.
However, the U.S. National High Way Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also said that it has launched a probe into more vehicles with potentially defective airbags, which could add millions more vehicles to the recall list.
The latest investigation could expand a future recall to cover not just older models, but millions of newer vehicles.
The new investigation is also looking at a wide range of airbag types including side-impact restraints. The current recall was triggered by reports that at least eight people had been killed with at least 100 more injured because of faulty airbag inflators.
These are the devices that cause the front driver and passenger airbags to deploy in the event of a crash. The defective inflators can malfunction explosively, sending pieces of plastic and metal into the passenger compartment.
More Signs of Trouble
Report of troubles in newer models came recently with the report of a Takata airbag failure in a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan. In this case, a side-impact airbag misfired after a crash with a deer. The shrapnel expelled from the airbag inflator caused near-fatal injury to the driver.
NHTSA also received a report from General Motors that it recalled 334 Chevy Malibu cars to be sold in the Middle East and Singapore.
That recall in May was ordered after a side impact air bag failed during routine testing by Takata.
Late last month, two Democratic U.S. senators, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and Massachusetts Edward Markey, responded by calling for the recall of all vehicles using Takata air bags, including newer models.
How Does This Affect Consumers?
This is deeply disturbing news for consumers. First and foremost, the question that arises is why did Takata not get to the root of the problem concerning these airbag inflators?
If the problem is persisting in new vehicle models, does Takata even know what caused the explosive expulsion of shrapnel in the first place?
Secondly, Takata has been repairing already recalled older model vehicles at a glacial pace. How will they even get around to repairing millions more vehicles in a timely manner?
As always, consumers get the short end of the stick here.
Many who own vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags face the dilemma of removing the airbag systems from their vehicles and risk suffering serious injuries in a crash without airbags to protect them, or continue to drive with the defective airbags and face the danger of getting pierced by shrapnel. This is absolutely unfair to consumers.
As auto product liability attorneys who represent the rights of injured victims and their families, we urge Takata and NHTSA to come up with a plan to ensure that millions of lives are not put in danger.