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NHTSA Now Estimates 19.2 Million U.S. Cars Have Faulty Takata Airbags

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/2/2015 Megan Stewart

According U.S. safety regulators, the Takata airbag recall, which had a previous estimate of nearly 34 million affected vehicles, now believe only 19.2 million vehicles may be affected. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the discrepancy comes from some vehicles being double-counted in earlier estimates. Many vehicles included in the initial count were also not sold in the U.S.

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Those cars contain roughly 23.4 million Takata airbag inflators suspected to be faulty, a NHTSA official reported in a briefing today. About 4 million of those are equipped with faulty front airbags for both the driver and passenger seats. The official also said that only 4.4 million of the defective inflators have been replaced to date, and most will have to be replaced again. The current number of affected vehicles will continue to fluctuate, depending on whether officials decide the recalls must be expanded further.

NHTSA is also conducting its own safety tests on the Takata airbags to determine if the information provided by the company was accurate. Most results matched, and the agency found that those inflators in vehicles that reside in hot and humid climates are more at risk.

In February, Takata was hit with a $14,000-per-day fine until it fully cooperated with NHTSA. By June, the U.S. House of Representatives panel called a meeting to help the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade to better understand what led to such a massive recall.

The recall continues to make waves, with more and more automakers adding to the list of recalled vehicles, including Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Honda, BMW, and more. A public hearing will be held later this fall and NHTSA will fully announce its plans to help carry out the massive recalls and deliver replacement parts for the 11 affected automakers and their customers.

However, NHTSA is still looking into Takata to get to the root of the defect, but has yet to find a source. The U.S. Justice Department is also pursuing a criminal probe to see if the company violated safety laws. While the original recall was only for driver- and passenger-side airbag inflators, the scope has been widened to look at side airbags mounted in seats after one ruptured in a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan earlier this year.

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So far, the defective Takata airbag inflators have been linked to 8 deaths and over 100 injuries, but the company has previously said that it will not establish an airbag victim fund. According to Takata, it doesn't believe that "establishing a general compensation fund is warranted at this time," but that they would continue to look into how to address those affected by the defective airbags.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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