December 18, 2017
The Center for Auto Safety (“Center”) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) notices of receipt of petition for inconsequentiality filed pursuant to 49 CFR Part 556.4 by Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) and Mazda Motor of America (“Mazda”). The Ford and Mazda joint petition seeks a determination that first-generation PSDI-5 PSAN airbag inflators manufactured by the Takata Corporation (“Takata”) and installed in Ford and Mazda vehicles are exempt from the recall notification and remedy requirements of the Safety Act.
Over three million Ford and Mazda vehicles included PSDI-5 inflators at the time of manufacture. These inflators were supplied by Takata, for installation in Ford, Mazda, and Nissan vehicles, using ammonium nitrate as a propellant. Ford chose ammonium nitrate, a less expensive, more volatile inflator propellant, over safer alternatives.
It is hard to imagine a more consequential safety defect than Takata airbag inflators. As noted by the Takata independent monitor, John Buretta: “The words ‘grenade’ and ‘ticking time bomb’ accurately convey the lethal potential of these defective inflators. To date, at least 13 people in the U.S. have died from injuries inflicted by defective Takata airbag inflators.”