Even previously-recalled vehicles are in danger again.
If you thought the Takata airbag recall was over, think again. The NHTSA opened a brand-new probe into the largest recall in automotive history. This report comes courtesy of Reuters, who has seen a government document. According to Reuters, the investigation is not yet public, but manufacturers have been alerted and the NHTSA is due to make an announcement imminently.
The original airbag scandal cost Takata $1 billion, which bankrupted the company in 2017.
The new investigation includes more than 20 manufacturers and 30 million vehicles built between 2001 and 2019. Manufacturers include Honda, Ford, Toyota, GM, Subaru, Nissan, Tesla, Ferrari, BMW, Chrysler, Porsche, and Jaguar Land Rover, to name a few. Back in 2018, it was revealed that the airbag recall cost Ford a total of $300 million, while Volkswagen had to pay $42 million.
The new investigation includes both cars with defective inflators installed when they were new and vehicles equipped with the new inflators after the original recall. Specific makes and models are yet to be named, but it's fair to say everything from a Honda Civic to a Ferrari 488 GTB could be at risk.
For reference, the first Takata recall concerned more than 100 million vehicles globally and 67 million in the USA. These Takata-made airbags were recalled because of faulty inflators that could potentially send metal fragments flying into the cabin in rare cases. A total of 28 deaths and more than 400 injuries has been tied to these faulty airbags. Of these deaths, 19 were in the USA.
According to the document, the 30 million vehicles currently under investigation have inflators with a drying agent on the inside. This drying agent is designed to absorb moisture and keep components dry. The documents report that there have been no reported cases of ruptures in airbags with the drying agent.
This is odd because that was the main cause of the faulty inflators in the first place. The propellant on the inside of the airbag broke down following long-term exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity. The 67 million Takata recalls were all for airbags without a drying agent included.
According to Reuters, the opening statement of the NHTSA's engineering analysis states that "while no present safety risk has been identified, further work is needed to evaluate the future risk of non-recalled desiccated inflators."
Out of the 67 million cars initially recalled, 50 million have been repaired or are accounted for.
The NHTSA has yet to comment on why the sudden change of heart or how the probe into the airbags will work.
Back in 2017, we reported that the automotive industry was making meaningful progress. Let's hope this latest investigation is just a precaution and won't result in another massive recall.