Four years to repair Takata airbags — at best
Honda has added 4.5 million vehicles in countries outside the US to the growing list of cars and trucks recalled for Takata airbags that could explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers.
It raises to 57.5 million the total number of Takata airbag inflators recalled worldwide.
The figure includes 33.8 million inflators in the US affecting 32 million vehicles from 11 automakers including Honda, BMW and Toyota.
At Honda alone, the figure is 24.5 million worldwide.
The staggering numbers mean it will take several years for Takata and other airbag makers to produce enough inflators to finish the recalls, leaving potentially dangerous Takata inflators on the road.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer estimated it would take four years or longer to make enough inflators to finish all the global recalls, assuming no further recalls are announced.
A recent explosion involving a Nissan passenger airbag in Japan shows more cars could be recalled, he said. Takata is the only company that uses ammonium nitrate as a propellant to inflate the airbags.
“I see more and more indications every day that all of those are going to need to be recalled versus only a portion,” Brauer said. “It’s just how long before [the propellant] goes bad seems to be the pattern that we’re seeing.”
During a US Senate hearing last month, Takata’s North America vice-president Kevin Kennedy testified the company had made more than 5 million replacement inflators and was producing 700,000 more per month. The company has plans to increase that to 1 million inflators monthly by September, and other manufacturers also are making replacements.
But even with the increased production, the US Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates it would take more than 2½ years to make enough inflators just for the US.
The latest Honda recall is for the problem announced previously with airbag inflators on the driver’s side. But it has extended the period during which cars were manufactured from 2004-06 to 2007-11.
Honda declined to give a breakdown of where the 4.5 million vehicles are until transport agencies in affected nations were notified.
The recall spans 17 models, including the Fit (Jazz), Stream minivan and CR-V sport utility vehicle.
At least eight people have been killed and 100 injured worldwide by the inflators. The problem has persisted for more than a decade. In New Zealand, the car distributors will contact owners of affected vehicles and advise them of remedial action.