According to NHTSA data, automakers are running behind on Takata airbag replacements. Of the total estimated 29M vehicles recalled for defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators, only about one-quarter have been replaced or repaired. Some automakers are doing better than others, but only one so far has managed to fix more than half of the vehicles it recalled.
The defective airbag inflators weaken after repeated and prolonged exposure to humidity. This exposure also causes the propellant used to inflate the defective airbags, ammonium nitrate, to become volatile and explode with much more force than necessary. The defect also causes the airbags to deploy randomly, without the vehicle necessarily being in an accident. When the inflators rupture like this, they spray hot metal shrapnel into the vehicles’ passenger cabins. To date, the defective inflators have caused ten deaths worldwide – nine in the U.S. – and over 100 injuries, also in the U.S. The non-U.S. fatality involved a pregnant woman in Malaysia.
One of the problems with getting the recall work completed is that Takata is having major difficulties fulfilling replacement orders for non-ammonium nitrate containing inflators. Several other suppliers have been called upon to help pick up the slack.
The scorecard, as of March 11, shows percentage of repairs completed as follows:
- Honda Motor Company, Takata’s largest customer, has completed over half of the repairs on vehicles it recalled through December last year. That’s about 5.4M airbag inflators. However, Honda also issued another recall of 2.3M vehicles in February of this year.
- Toyota Motor Corporation has completed about 22% or 717,000 recall repairs.
- Ford Motor Company has completed about 21% of its recalls, around 149,500 inflators. These were also for recalls through December 2015. In January, the company recalled another 361,692 vehicles.
- BMW AG also comes in with a completion rate of about 21% or 193,300 recalled vehicles. The company also recalled another 840,000 vehicles in February. BMW’s main challenge has been completing repairs on its driver-side inflators. The company has done less than 2% of those repairs. NHTSA recently gave BMW an extension.
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has repaired around 15% or 736,000 of its recalls.
- Mazda Motor Corporation and Fuji Heavy Industries’ Subaru, both smaller automakers, come in with completion rates of less than 6% of their respective recalls.
According to a NHTSA mandate, all automakers with open defective Takata airbag recalls need to have an adequate supply of replacement parts in stock this year and the majority of the open recalls must be completed by the end of 2017.