Thursday, May 5, 2016
National and local outlets are reporting that the Takata recall has been expanded to an additional 35 to 40 million airbag inflators due to a deadly defect. The CBS Evening News (5/4, story 4, 1:55, Pelley, 11.17M) reported that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said, “This issue is urgent. On March 31, we had the 10 confirmed fatality in the United States.” CBS added that Rosekind wants Takata to speed up efforts to replace the airbags. Rosekind said he understood customers’ frustration as his own family has “a vehicle with a Takata inflator sitting in our driveway.” CBS explained that the expansion includes all Takata airbag inflators with ammonium nitrate, “a volatile chemical the Takata Corporation started using 15 years ago to cut costs. Ammonium nitrate breaks down over time, especially in high heat, high humidity climates, and can cause the air bag inflator to malfunction, potentially sending shrapnel through the vehicle.”
The New York Times (5/4, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 14.18M) writes that Rosekind was “blunt in his criticism of Takata and blamed its efforts to manipulate testing data and mislead regulators for the snowballing recalls.” The Time writes that both Takata and Honda were aware of the flawed airbag since 2004. Former Takata engineers have also “said that Takata conducted secret tests on inflaters it retrieved from scrapyards that year, but ordered the data destroyed after the two inflaters cracked under testing.” The Wall Street Journal (5/4, Spector, Subscription Publication, 6.27M) reports that Rosekind said Takata was cooperative in the latest recall expansion and has made efforts to implement better safety and regulatory compliance measures. However, Rosekind said the NHTSA has not forgotten that the company manipulated and withheld information from consumers, automakers, and regulators in the past.
CNBC (5/4, Imbert, 2.45M) adds that DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Today’s action is a significant step in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s aggressive oversight of Takata on behalf of drivers and passengers across America.” Foxx added, “The acceleration of this recall is based on scientific evidence and will protect all Americans from air bag inflators that may become unsafe.”
CBS News (5/4, Gibson, 3.67M) reports on its website that the NHTSA says the recall expansion will take place in five phases between May 2016 and December 2019. Rosekind explained, “The most dangerous inflators are targeted first;” however, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward Markey (D-MA) “said the expanded recall was not enough, and reiterated that all devices using ammonium nitrate should be replaced.” The article mentions that NHTSA has developed an online portal for consumers to check if their car has the recalled Takata airbags. USA Today (5/4, Bomey, 6.31M) adds that the car owners will receive notices when it’s time for their phase of repairs.
The NBC Nightly News (5/4, story 7, 0:30, Holt, 16.61M) reported that the recall already included 29 million cars. NBC said the expanded recall now affects “one in every four or five cars on the road.” NBC News (5/4, Eisenstein, 2.97M) adds online that Rosekind said, “This is the largest recall in American history.” NBC reported that it is unclear how many vehicles will be effected by the recall, “because some vehicles use more than one of the Takata devices, the total number of vehicles will likely be somewhat smaller.” Furthermore, NBC reported that the major challenge will be the delivery of replacement parts. According to the NHTSA, just over 8 million vehicles have been fixed, which is less than a third of the initial recall. Following the recall expansion announcement, Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada said, “This agreement with NHTSA is consistent with our desire to work with regulators and our automaker customers to develop long-term, orderly solutions to these important safety issues.”
The AP (5/4, Krisher, Lowy) writes that while Rosekind admits that the replacement pace has been slow. He explained, “We don’t want to introduce new safety risks by pushing too fast.” The AP mentions that the NHTSA “said the inflators have to be replaced before they reach six years old, when the risk of rupture increases.” The AP adds that other inflator manufacturers are working with Takata to make replacements. Bloomberg News (5/4, Plungis, 2.07M) writes that the NHTSA “believes the Takata air-bag issue is an industrywide responsibility, and it will rely on other air-bag suppliers and the automakers themselves to address parts supply and ensure the faulty inflators are replaced as soon as possible.”
ABC News (5/4, Dooley, Steinberger, 4.15M) reports that the recall already included over a dozen automakers, “including Honda, Nissan, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen.” The article writes that the expansion will add three automakers not previously included in the intial recall, Tesla, Jaguar Land Rover, and Fisker.
The Hill (5/4, Zanona, 884K) reports that the expanded recall will increase financial pressure on Takata. The article mentions that Takata has seen its stock decline and announced $189 million in losses due to the recall.
The Washington Post (5/4, Halsey, 9.23M) writes that Takata said it will phase out the use of ammonium nitrate in all of its airbag systems by 2018. The Post adds that this will mean that “some drivers may have to have their air bags replaced twice, once with a newer ammonium nitrate bag and a second time when air bars that don’t use the problematic chemical become available.” The Post mentions that Takata was recently ordered to also assess the safety of its desiccated inflators, which if not proven to be safe, will also be recalled.