More than 600,000 cars in the UK have been recalled after a potentially fatal fault was found in car aircon and airbags that caused them to fire metal shards at the driver and passenger.
Atmospheric moisture caused Ammonium Nitrate used in the faulty airbags to change structure, so that it produces excessive pressure when the airbag ignites and showers the driver or passenger in metal shards from the inflators. It has effectively turned the airbag into a pipe bomb in the worst cases.
The recall came after the firm was ordered to comply with new safety checks following the probe. Now 11 carmakers have been dragged into a recall to replace faulty airbag inflators made by Takata, including: BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors. Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
In the UK the Toyota Yaris, Hi-Lux and Corolla, Nissan Almera and various Hondas are involved. Mazda and Mitsubishi were the latest manufacturers to be drawn into the scandal that means more than 34 million cars have been recalled in total around the world.
Most manufacturers are scrambling to correct the problem, although Nissan admitted it would not be sending letters right away. Any delay, now that the scale of the airbag problem is clear,
Most of the cars were recalled in Japan, but with six deaths and more than 100 injuries so far the fault will have far-reaching consequences. Experts have claimed that the injuries resemble gunshot wounds and Takata has been besieged by lawsuits in the US, as further claims emerge that the bosses tried to cover up the defect for several years.
Criminal and regulatory investigations have already begun and the class action lawsuits have already claimed obfuscation.
Bloomberg quotes three inside sources, who remained anonymous, as confirming that the company began changing its airbags in 2008 to combat the risk of humidity causing them to deploy abnormally.
Toyota said that it would help with the investigation as it became clear Takata could struggle with the magnitude of the problem. The company recorded £26.5 million of extraordinary losses for the fourth fiscal quarter as a result of previous recalls and this latest problem will almost certainly throw the company’s future into doubt.