The global automotive industry was not at its best during the last two or three years, losing lawsuit after lawsuit over defective products that caused personal injuries and killed consumers and over false representations that made consumers feel betrayed. Last year Takata, the manufacturer of defective and sometimes lethal airbags, agreed to the biggest recall in automotive history: 29 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. alone. The Takata case dwarfs the Volkswagen vehicle emissions scandal, which affected about 12 million vehicles.
Rounding out the year, in December autonews.com warned that “Another airbag recall crisis is brewing–this time, from Swedish auto safety parts manufacturer Autoliv Inc.–that will potentially lead to a recall of as many as 400,000 vehicles that incorporate Autoliv seatbelt and airbag parts worldwide.” No crashes have been reported, but in two recent filings Autoliv told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of problems with airbag and seatbelt initiators.
In the first filing, Autoliv revealed that, in the event of a crash, a small part called a micro gas generator used in seat belt pretensioners could detach and “may be a projectile within the vehicle cabin.” In the second filing, Autoliv told the NHTSA that airbag and seat belt initiators might not work in as many as 114,000 vehicles. The parts involved in the airbag problem were manufactured from July to November 2016.
In June 2016, reported autoweek.com, Toyota announced it was recalling more than a million Prius, Prius Plug-In and Lexus CT200h vehicles for a problem with side airbags “NOT made by Takata,” but by Autoliv. The affected cars were produced between October 2008 and April 2012.
Two connected chambers in the Autoliv airbags can separate when the car is parked and unoccupied for a time, and can lead to pieces of the inflator being shot into the car when the airbag goes off. “On the bright side, this problem can probably be fixed quickly, while some Takata recall customers are still waiting for parts to arrive.”