Another recall has been issued in North America over this issue.
Volkswagen has issued a recall for almost 42,000 examples of the 2015 to 2016 Beetle due to the possibility of dangerous Takata airbags. The recall, issued last Friday, was done in coordination with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Takata airbag recall sage is, unfortunately, nothing new.
As a brief recap, automakers began issuing recalls for Takata-made airbags back in 2013 following multiple reports of the inflators exploding and hurling potentially deadly shrapnel into drivers. Disturbingly, the exploding airbags may have begun a decade prior and Takata did not take appropriate action. The Japanese company filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
The problem with these airbags originates from the fact that Takata used ammonium nitrate in order to create a small explosion to inflate the airbags during a crash. However, that chemical can deteriorate over time due to being exposed to high temperatures and humidity. To date, at least 33 people have been killed globally, 24 individuals in the US alone, as a result of exploding airbags.
Nearly every automaker, including ultra-exclusive brands like Ferrari, have had to issue recalls since Takata was their primary airbag supplier for years. Volkswagen has, to date, spent an estimated $42 million recalling these airbags. And now, the third-generation Beetle, which was discontinued in 2019, is the latest Takata airbag vehicular victim. The recall report states that VW dealership technicians will replace the driver's side airbag in the affected vehicles free of charge.
Owners will begin to be notified by mail if their Beetle is part of the recall starting on February 17, 2023. The NHTSA does not say affected owners should stop driving the vehicles until the recall is complete. The Beetle's airbags do use a moisture-absorbing chemical that can slow down the ammonium nitrate deterioration process. However, the automaker and the government safety agency have still come to the conclusion it's best to replace these airbags as a preemptive measure.
Since the Beetle's discontinuation, VW has been pushing customers towards its crossover lineup, specifically the entry-level Taos. The Golf hatchback, which previously shared a platform with the Beetle, has also been dropped from the North American lineup. The performance-focused Golf GTI and Golf R, however, remain on sale.