Recall of Up to 54 Million Defective Airbags Will Never End

The Wall Street Journal has reported that two-thirds of the more than 46 million recalled Takata Corp. air bags that risk rupturing haven’t been repaired. The ammonium nitrate compound used in Takata’s airbags was found to become volatile with age and prolonged exposure to heat, causing the devices to explode. Will this important but lagging vehicle safety initiative slow to the point of stopping?

One Oklahoma consumer told the WSJ that the two vehicles in her driveway were what some people call “ticking time bombs” following the recall notices she had received. Her dealership, still waiting for parts for the repair, ultimately gave her substantial discounts on a new car “to get it resolved to make sure she was not driving a car around, with grandchildren in it, that was defective,” said her husband.

 In June, Takata’s CEO expressed condolences for the victims of its faulty airbags, including at least 16 deaths and nearly 200 injuries—the day after the company filed for bankruptcy. Reuters reported that the company faces 10 billion to 50 billion dollars in costs and liabilities resulting from almost a decade of recalls and lawsuits. Key Safety Systems (KSS), a Michigan-based parts supplier owned by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp., will take over Takata’s viable operations, while the remaining operations will be reorganized to continue churning out millions of replacement airbag inflators, the two firms told Reuters.
 “The Takata Corp. bankruptcy filing should shield the Japanese airbag supplier from some financial liability, but it does virtually nothing to speed the U.S. airbag inflator recall that is frustrating manufacturers and auto dealers,” wrote Automotive News. The recall began in 2008, but automakers still face the problems of obtaining millions of replacement parts and getting vehicle owners into dealerships for the free repairs. Even when notified multiple times, many vehicle owners have not yet responded.
In the meantime, according to Reuters, Ford Motor Corp. is going to petition to avoid U.S. recall of 2.5 million vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “said the petition would seek an exemption from the recall because Ford believes the issue is inconsequential.”
Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at cfollis@lawyersva.com.

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