Takata Airbag Recall: Ongoing Impact, Consumer Alert

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Takata was responsible for installing airbags in hundreds of thousands of cars from at least 19 different automakers from 2002 to 2015. In 2013, it was announced that Takata airbags in cars that were made by numerous automakers were subject to a recall due to a deadly malfunction in their mechanism.

Though we’re now six years on from that initial recall, the impacts can still be felt to this day.

Takata Airbag Recall

Takata

Takata was founded in 1933 in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Originally, the company made lifelines for parachutes among other textile goods. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s in Japan, they became an auto parts manufacturer, and by the 1980s they were a major automotive company.

Throughout the turn of the millennium and beyond, the company amassed a massive market share, comprising roughly twenty percent of the airbags in all cars on the road worldwide. This massive spread is part of why the eventual recall would be so wide-ranging and have so much impact.

The Issue

In 2013, the NHTSA announced the recall and stated it would be the largest and most complex safety recall in American history. The issue in question was related to the mechanism that inflated the airbag, which uses propellant wafers. In some cases, this inflator could malfunction, firing shrapnel into the car and spraying the cabin with deadly, high-speed metal.

It’s surmised that this has been an issue since at least the late 1990s, though the nature of the malfunction has made it hard to detect. Since victims of the shrapnel have already been in car accidents, it can be difficult for investigators to realize that what harmed or killed them was actually the airbag malfunctioning, not an injury from the crash itself.

Ongoing Impact

In the US, the NHTSA has surmised that at least 24 people have been killed as a result of Takata’s faulty airbag, and at least 300 more were injured.

The fallout from the recall and the subsequent judgments against the company rendered them completely insolvent, and they eventually declared bankruptcy and sold their assets off to their chief competitor, China-based Key Safety System.

What remains of Takata now operates as Joyson Safety Systems and operates out of Michigan.