Takata Corp., a prominent auto parts manufacturer, launched its line of airbags in 1988. By 2014, the company made up 20 percent of the market. The previous year showed signs of trouble as multiple automakers started large-scale recalls of their vehicles equipped with Takata-made airbags. The problem with the so-called protective devices actually went back to 1998 in Honda models.
The source of the explosions was ammonium nitrate, which created a small explosion to facilitate the inflation of the bags. Over time, the chemical increases in volatility when moisture is in the air already at higher temperatures. Upon the bag exploding, shrapnel from a ruptured metal canister targeted the passenger compartment.
Troubles continue to plague the parts manufacturer
Takata’s problems earned negative publicity when the company experienced the most extensive series of recalls in U.S. history following news of airbags exploding. Since 2009, faulty airbags have resulted in 33 deaths worldwide. Twenty-four of those occurred in the United States.
To date, approximately 100 million inflators have been removed from the worldwide market. Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy in the shadow of reports that millions of devices are in desperate need of repairs.
Fast forward to today, three additional airbag-related deaths of drivers occurred in the past few months. The discovery of 274,000 older Dodge and Chrysler vehicles found to contain faulty inflators forced Takata and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue additional warnings.
Parts manufacturers are tasked with ensuring that the products they provide to the public are effective and, most importantly, safe. Falling short has devastating and deadly consequences for victims of defective products that can end lives.