Honda announced May 14 that it has recalled nearly 5 million vehicles for a defective airbag made by Takata Corp., one of the worlds largest producers of automobile safety features. The recall comes one day after Nissan and Toyota recalled a total 6.5 million vehicles.
The latest brings the number of Takata-related recalled airbags to an astounding 36 million since 2008.
Independent research conducted by the automakers found that the affected airbag inflators were not properly sealed, which could allow moisture to seep into the potentially volatile propellant casing and could lead to bags exploding with excessive force and shooting shrapnel into the vehicle.
New evidence suggests that Takata ignored several red flags during production of the airbags. Despite expressed concerns over the unstable properties of the chosen propellant, which has been shown to destabilize if contaminated with moisture, the company still decided to use the explosive because of its affordable cost.
Additionally, the New York Times reported that George Neff, president of IsoVac Engineering, a defense contractor asked by Takata to evaluate its product, warned the company that their helium-based test for detecting leaks in inflators was inadequate. According to Neff, the corporation ignored his suggestion for a more reliable radiation-based testing method.
The Japan-based company has refused to admit that its bags are faulty or to call for a consolidated recall of its products, leaving the burden on the shoulders of automakers to file their own recalls.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Takata's response to the issues with its products has been unacceptable. The regulator is fining the company $14,000 a day until it fully cooperates.
So far, at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been attributed to the defective airbag. Five of the deaths occurred in the U.S. and one was in Malaysaia.
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