Takata’s already massive airbag recall just got bigger this week by adding 35 to 40 million more airbags, which adds three more automakers to the already long list of affected vehicles: Tesla, Jaguar and Land Rover are now included in the latest recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that it is expanding and accelerating the recall of Takata airbag inflators, which have been tied to “ten deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States”.
NHTSA describes the root cause of the problem:
” A combination of time, environmental moisture and fluctuating high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag and into the vehicle occupants.”
While it certainly sounds scary, Takata’s airbags under recall are not all equally dangerous or even dangerous at all for years after being installed in a new vehicle. Therefore, NHTSA is going forward with the new recall in phases between May 2016 and December 2019, starting with the more at risk units.
A Tesla spokesperson sent us the following statement:
“Tesla has not issued a recall notice, and has no immediate plans to do so. We will work with NHTSA to determine when and whether such a recall will be required in order to continue to ensure the safety of our customers.”
Since NHTSA said that “all of the most dangerous inflators responsible for the deaths and injuries are already under recall”, it would mean that Tesla’s inflators are not the most at risk.
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind:
“The science clearly shows that these inflators become unsafe over time, faster when exposed to humidity and variations of temperature,” Rosekind added. “This recall schedule ensures the inflators will be recalled and replaced before they become dangerous, giving vehicle owners sufficient time to have them replaced before they pose a danger to vehicle occupants. NHTSA will continue to evaluate all available research and will act quickly to protect safety.”
The agency is calling the Takata recall the “largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history”.