Takata is still wrapping up its issues related to recalls of its airbags.
NHTSA issued a report of the status of the recalls in late 2017. This was the largest recall in US history because it involved “[v]ehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”
Consumer Reports identified the central issue as “the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which in some cases has ignited with explosive force.” If that inflator breaks when there is a crash, “metal shards from the airbag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.”
Consumer reports set forth the following timeline of events in the Takata experience, which may shed some light on how things will unfold with Kia and Hyundai:
September 28, 2018 Honda expands their Takata airbag recall to cover an additional 1.4 million vehicles. Of the 23 people killed worldwide due to Takata airbags, 13 of them were in a Honda vehicle.
March 20, 2018: Senate report highlights that only six of the 17 automakers involved in the wide-ranging Takata airbag recall have adequate loaner car policies for customers that are waiting for parts to become available. The companies that have the most comprehensive loaner policies with the fewest restrictions are BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.
February 23, 2018: A U.S. bankruptcy judge in Delaware approved a plan negotiated by Takata and its creditors to create a trust fund to compensate the victims of exploding airbag inflators. Automakers are giving up some monetary claims against Takata and agreeing to contribute $90 million to $137 million to the trust fund.
February 12, 2018: New advisory raises the number of 2006 Rangers involved to 30,603 in the U.S., says NHTSA. Mazda is expanding its advisory to include 1,955 B-Series pickup trucks from model year 2006, up from the original 160.
January 11, 2018: NHTSA advises owners of 2006 Ford Ranger pickup trucks to stop driving them after the agency confirmed a second Takata airbag-related death involving the specific truck and model year.
January 9, 2018: Takata expanded its already massive recall by an additional 3.3 million airbag inflators over the same concerns that they might explode and spray dangerous metal fragments into the vehicle’s cabin. This was the third of five planned recalls. More vehicles are scheduled to be recalled later.
July 11, 2017: Takata announces recall action will add 2.7 million vehicles from Ford, Mazda, and Nissan that use airbag inflators that contain calcium sulfate, a chemical that serves as a drying agent.
June 26, 2017: Takata files for bankruptcy.
March 2, 2017: Ford recalls 32,000 2016-17 Ford Edge, 2016-17 Lincoln MKX and 2017 Lincoln Continental vehicles to replace the driver frontal airbag module.
February 28, 2017: Takata has finally pleaded guilty to deceiving automakers about the safety of its airbags. Now automakers are disputing charges that they knowingly installed the defective airbags in their cars.
January 12, 2017: Reports of an expected $1 billion penalty against Takata are published, with the expectation that $25 million will be a criminal penalty and $850 million would be paid as restitution to automakers impacted by the recall.
Ford expands its recall to 816,000 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicle made in North America, including 654,695 sold in the U.S. Most vehicles were included in prior recall actions, but this move adds the passenger-side airbag inflators.
Toyota also expands its recalls to 543,000 additional vehicles in the U.S., including both Toyota and Lexus brand models, to address front passenger airbags. Notably, this adds the 2012 model year to the recall list for many vehicles.
December 9, 2016: A more aggressive recall schedule was announced by the Department of Transportation, with priority given to the riskiest models.
October 20, 2016: NHTSA confirms the 11th fatality. It occurred in a 2001 Honda Civic, a vehicle that was recalled in 2008. The recall had not been performed on this specific car. Nine of the 11 Takata-related deaths in the U.S. have occurred in Acura and Honda models. Honda reports that there are just under 300,000 affected vehicles that have not been repaired or accounted for.
July 22, 2016: Mazda announced that it is recalling additional B-Series pickup trucks from the 2007 to 2009 model years. The recall covers passenger airbags.
June 30, 2016: NHTSA announces that certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura models have a much higher risk of ruptures during airbag deployments. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”
June 21, 2016: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announces it will end NAFTA-market production of vehicles with non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate Takata airbag inflators by the end of June, with global production to end by mid-September. The 2016 Jeep Wrangler uses this type of inflator in the passenger-side airbag. Customers will be advised of vehicles that are so-equipped, and will be advised that the vehicles will be recalled in the future.
June 14, 2016: Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen have all confirmed the new vehicles they are selling that contain Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based propellant in the driver and/or passenger frontal airbag inflators without a chemical drying agent, also known as a desiccant. Fiat Chrysler has yet to announce which vehicle they are selling with this type of airbag. While none of the models are part of the current recall, they all will have to be recalled by 2018. According to NHTSA, as of May 20, 2016, a total of 8,432,805 airbags have been replaced.
June 2, 2016: Audi, BMW, General Motors, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz have added nearly 2.5 million more U.S. vehicles to the list of cars with defective Takata airbags.
June 1, 2016: Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Volkswagen confirm in a report from Florida Senator Bill Nelson that they are selling some new vehicles with airbags that contain Takata’s ammonium nitrate-based propellant in driver and passenger frontal airbag inflators without a chemical drying agent, also known as a desiccant. These vehicles will have to be recalled by 2018.
May 4, 2016: The massive Takata airbag recall is more than doubling in size, with NHTSA announcing that it is expanding the recall to include 35-40 million airbag inflators to be replaced through 2019. This tally is in addition to the 28.8 million airbags already recalled. Thus far, NHTSA shows that 8,168,860 airbags have been replaced.
April 13, 2016: Regulators state that there are 85 million potentially defective, unrecalled Takata airbag inflators that will need to be recalled—unless Takata can prove they are safe. So far, the recall has included 28.8 million airbags in the U.S.
April 7, 2016: A 17-year-old girl from Texas named as the 10th U.S. victim. She was driving a 2002 Honda Civic. Her death is attributed to shrapnel from the exploding airbag striking her neck. NHTSA shows that 7,522,533 airbags have been repaired.
February 12, 2016: NHTSA expands its list of impacted models. Thus far, 7,122,510 airbags have been repaired.
December 23, 2015: NHTSA announces another U.S. fatality due to the questionable Takata airbag inflator, underscoring the need for the consumer to have their cars repaired as soon as possible. Further, there have been changes to the official list of affected vehicles, which are reflected in this omnibus story.
November 3, 2015: NHTSA imposes a record civil penalty of up to $200 million against Takata. (Of that, $70 million is a cash penalty, with an additional $130 million charge if Takata fails to meet its commitments.) Plus, the government agency requires Takata to phase out the manufacture and sale of inflators that use the risky propellant and recall all Takata ammonium nitrate inflators currently on the road—unless the company can prove they are safe or can show it has determined why its inflators are prone to rupture.
October 9, 2015: Honda releases an update on the Takata airbag recall, stating its progress in reaching out to consumers and its recall repair completion rate.
June 19, 2015: NHTSA and Honda confirm that an 8th fatality was attributable to a Takata airbag rupture, which took place in Los Angeles in September of 2014. The car was identified as a rented 2001 Honda Civic. Honda said the car had been under recall since 2009 but that various owners, including the small rental company in Los Angeles, had failed to have the repairs made.
June 17, 2015: NHTSA VIN look-up tool is updated to include all affected models. Often, there can be a slight delay between announcements and when data is available.
June 16, 2015: Toyota expands years for recall on previously announced models, adding 1,365,000 additional vehicles.
June 15, 2015: Honda expands national recall on Honda Accord.
June 15, 2015: NHTSA and Honda confirm that Takata airbag rupture was implicated in a seventh death. The driver of a 2005 Honda Civic was fatally injured following a crash on April 5, in Louisiana.
June 4, 2015: Reuters reports that at least 400,000 replaced airbag inflators will need to be recalled and replaced again.
May 29, 2015: Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and General Motors added the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) of the impacted vehicles to their recall websites.
May 28, 2015: NHTSA and vehicle manufacturers revealed the additional models included in previous recall announcements.
May 19, 2015: DOT released a statement saying that Takata acknowledges airbag inflators it produced for certain vehicles were faulty. It expanded certain regional recalls to national ones and included inflators fitted in certain Daimler Trucks in the recalled vehicles. In all, the recall was expanded to a staggering 33.8 million vehicles. That number includes the roughly 17 million vehicles previously recalled by affected automakers.
February 20, 2015: NHTSA fined Takata $14,000 per day for not cooperating fully with the agency’s investigation into the airbag problems.
January 18, 2015: The driver of a 2002 Honda Accord became the fifth person in the United States thought to have been killed by an exploding airbag inflator.
December 18, 2014: Ford issued a statement adding an additional 447,310 vehicles to the recall.
December 9, 2014: Honda issued a statement saying it will comply with NHTSA and expand its recall to a national level. This brings the number of affected Honda/Acura vehicles to 5.4 million.
November 18, 2014: NHTSA called for the recalls to be expanded to a national level.
November 7, 2014: New York Times published a report claiming Takata was aware of dangerous defects with its airbags years before the company filed paperwork with federal regulators.
As this timeline reflects, sometimes remedying these issues can take many years. Unfortunately, these airbag issues have been a recurrent problem. Many people have been seriously injured and even died. The attorneys at KBA often spend many years fighting for the rights of their clients. Contact us today if you or a loved one have been involved with an incident involving motor vehicles of any kind for a comprehensive review of the matter.