Nissan, Toyota ditch Takata airbags; Subaru expected to follow
Nissan and Toyota have confirmed plans to stop using airbag inflators produced by Takata, after the company was hit with a $70 million fine for mishandling the recent wave of recalls.
The disgraced Japanese supplier has argued that ammonium nitrate propellant is perfectly safe for use in airbag inflators, however the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has demanded that the company prove its safety claims or stop using the controversial chemical.
Ammonium nitrate wafers used in the inflators are believed to be prone to degradation over time, particularly in regions of high absolute humidity. The altered propellant can eventually explode with enough force to rupture the inflator capsule, potentially sending deadly shrapnel flying through the cabin.
With even newly-produced inflators showing signs of problems, many major automakers do not appear to be waiting for Takata to prove the safety of its inflator designs. Mazda and Honda were the first to confirm plans to begin finding new sources for inflators.
“In line with the recent announcement from the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we have decided to no longer use inflators containing ammonium nitrate in airbags for future models,” Nissan said in a statement to Bloomberg, echoing a similar comment made by Toyota president Akio Toyoda.
Both Subaru and Mitshubishi are considering following suit, pointing to even more potential financial trouble for Takata. Speaking to reporters, Takata president Shigehisa Takada acknowledged the situation poses a “risk” to the company’s survival.