The Biggest Safety Recall in History is About to Get Way, Way Bigger

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Maybe 2016 isn’t Takata’s year.

The airbag manufacturer at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history is poised to double the number of airbag inflators it needs to fix, Reuters reports.

A number of people close to the issue said the beleaguered company will soon announce a massive expansion in the scope of the recall, which has already seen 28.8 million airbag inflators recalled in vehicles from 14 automakers. Another 35 to 40 million units require fixing, the sources say.

The new recall will cover all front airbags that don’t contain a drying agent — an issue linked to past incidents resulting in death.

The recalls began last year after it was revealed that some Takata airbag inflators could explode with too much force, spraying metal shrapnel into a motorist’s face during airbag deployment. At least 10 deaths and 100 injuries in the U.S. are linked to the faulty inflators, with hot, humid climates posing the highest risk of malfunction.

Takata has until 2019 to prove to U.S. regulators that all of its airbag inflators are safe.

The company’s spokesperson, Jared Levy, stated, “Takata is working with regulators and our automaker customers to develop long-term, orderly solutions.”

While 40 million is a big number, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the final tally could be double that number.

The scandal and its associated costs have crippled Takata’s finances, with its stock taking a beating following the news of a looming recall. Last month, a source at the company said a worst-case scenario (a recall of every airbag) would cost Takata $24 billion — a penalty it can’t afford.

Bloomberg reports that Takata is seeking financial sponsors to boost its capital, and ultimately save the company. Their plan is to reform the business, likely under a new name.

In the wake of the scandal, many of the world’s largest automakers dropped Takata as a supplier.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
3 of 21 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 07, 2016

    This episode highlights the vital importance of suppliers in automobile manufacturing.

  • Webbrowan Webbrowan on Jun 03, 2016

    Product recalls are quite common but when it comes to safety equipment, such an unpleasant situation causes panic amongst consumers and will eventually cause public distrust. However, a recall is still necessary in order to prevent unwanted circumstances to happen to users.

  • Redapple2 Automatic hi beam - low bean is a bad thing. Not a benefit. Steering following headlights are not helpful. Their delayed - then fast catch up - style ? action make me seasick. I turn mine off at night. I do like XM. So,........ BMW- cram it sideways. I dont like being bent over the table. I will not participate in your drama and will proceed to the Lexus dealer.
  • ChristianWimmer Yes, but with a carbureted 500cid V8. None of that fuel-injection silliness. 😇
  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.