Senate Report: Automakers selling new vehicles with defective Takata airbags

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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bryan Gulley
Senate Commerce Committee Democratic Office

Senate Report: Automakers selling new vehicles with defective Takata airbags

More than 2.1  million defective inflators have also been installed as replacements in recalled vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C.According to a new report released by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, at least four automakers have confirmed they are still equipping some new vehicles with defective Takata airbags.

According to the report, Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen all admitted to equipping some new vehicles with non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate inflators that have been found to be the cause of airbag ruptures linked to as many as 13 deaths and 100 injuries worldwide. Although the automakers are legally allowed to sell the vehicles under an existing order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), all of them must be recalled by the end of 2018.

Only two of the four automakers provided investigators with the specific models that may contain defective inflators – they are:

2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
2016 Volkswagen CC
2016 Audi TT
2017 Audi R8

Toyota, one of the two companies that did not provide specific years and models, said that it expects to produce approximately 175,000 unspecified vehicles with the defective Takata inflators between March 2016 and July 2017, while Fiat Chrysler stated that at least one of its current models contains a frontal passenger-side airbag that uses the non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate inflators.

A fifth automaker, Honda, in their initial response stated that 17,000 new vehicles are equipped with non-desiccated inflators. However, in a more recent phone conversation Honda told investigators that no new vehicles are or will be equipped with such inflators.

“What’s troubling here is that consumers are buying new cars not realizing they’re going to be recalled,” Nelson said. “These cars shouldn’t be sold until they’re fixed.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • More than 2.1 million non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate replacement inflators have been installed in U.S. vehicles as of March 2016. While NHTSA has deemed the inflators to be safer than the older models already recalled, they are being allowed only as a temporary remedy until they too will be recalled by the end of 2019.
  • The percentage of defective vehicles repaired remains low according to NHTSA’s most recent data. As of May 20, 2016, nationwide recall completion rates for each automaker range from .16% to 57.1%.

Click here to view a copy of the report

Related: FCA will stop equipping new vehicles with Takata airbags slated for recall – 6/21/16