If you think that the Takata airbag recall drama is close to over, the exact opposite is true. Just a few days ago, the United States federal government imposed a $200 million fine on the parts company, plus threatened to require that company to prove ammonium nitrate is a safe propellant for airbag inflators, otherwise NHTSA would force a recall of every inflator that uses it.
Regulators also caught Takata in multiple lies, both to government agencies and also to consumers. With the current environment not looking good, the company agreed to recall each and every airbag system that uses ammonium nitrate, unless it can prove they’re safe, and to stop using the substance. NHTSA will also be acting as Takata’s personal nanny for the next five years, closely monitoring everything the company does. If more wrongdoing is uncovered, possibly more fines or legal action could be coming.
It seems most likely that Takata won’t be able to prove that the ammonium nitrate it’s used in airbag systems is stable. That means probably tens of millions of vehicles will be recalled, putting a big strain on the airbag system supply chain. With 19 million cars in the United States on recall for defective airbag systems already, consumers have had to wait long periods of time to get their vehicle fixed – a problem that will worsen. On top of that, Takata has actually been using ammonium nitrate in systems that have been installed in recalled vehicles, which means those cars, trucks and SUVs will be recalled again.
Honda is also severing ties with Takata and will find another airbag supplier. According to Honda, the decision was made because Takata lied by manipulating test data for its airbag inflators. There’s no doubt that Honda’s image has been tarnished by the whole recall fiasco, considering it used to be Takata’s biggest customer.