Since the middle of last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been trying to speed up the replacement of faulty Takata airbag inflators. At the same time, it has been attempting to increase the number of devices that have been swapped out. The lackluster results are apparently troubling to the safety agency which said late Thursday that it has been trying to increase the completion rates.
Honda, whose fleet has been especially hard-hit by the Takata airbag inflator recall, has recalled more than 13 million vehicles affected by the failing airbag inflators. Of that number, about 5.4 million inflators have been replaced by the automaker’s technicians. Honda has felt the sting of the recall more deeply than other automakers because Takata was, until January, its sole airbag component supplier. Indeed, of the 10 U.S. deaths linked to the exploding airbag inflators, nine of them have occurred in Honda vehicles. The inflators have caused more than 100 injuries.
Recall completion rates, according to NHTSA, are all over the map, ranging from lows of two percent to Honda’s 40 percent.
NHTSA’s report yesterday covered seven of the manufacturer’s involved in the record-breaking safety recall. So far, nearly 29 million vehicles have been recalled in the United States, while worldwide, the numbers are approaching 52 million vehicles. NHTSA is apparently disappointed by the repair rate. It has set the recall completion for the end of 2017, and it has also required individual automakers to have adequately supplied for replacement inflators to complete repairs.
Yesterday’s report gave the following completion information:
Automaker Number completion Percentage Additional
Fiat Chrysler 736,000 15 percent
Toyota 717,000 22 percent
Ford Motors Co. 149,500 21 percent 361,692
BMW 193,300 21 percent 840,000
BMW (driver-side only) 2 percent
Mazda under 6 percent
Subaru under 6 percent
Note that Ford, BMW and Honda added to the number of vehicles that they have to fix by adding more vehicles in January and February.
The reason for the discrepancy in some categories is that two or more recalls are occurring within the overall Takata recall. One of the recalls covers driver-side-only airbags while another covers passenger-side-only. A third recall covers both.
NHTSA’s report yesterday acknowledges the slow nature of the recall response. However, a spokesman for the safety agency said it is working with carmakers to “increase recall completion rates.”
The Takata exploding airbag inflator recall is the largest safety recall in history. Apparently involving the propellant used to inflate the airbag, it deteriorates over time increasing its explosive force. Then, when an airbag inflates during a crash, the blast shatters the inflator housing, creating shrapnel that scythes through the interior of the vehicle, often with deadly effect.
Information for this article was provided by Automotive News.