Toyota Motor Corp. has announced a recall of 1.7 million vehicles from all across the world after a faulty Takata air bag inflator was found to have ammonium nitrate based propellant which on explosion could send shrapnel into the occupant. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has termed it the most complex and extensive car safety recall in American history. The recall which started in 2016 recalls vehicles made by 19 different carmakers.
Just a week ago, Ford Motor Co. announced recall of around 953,000 vehicles installed with Takata inflators. As of now, 37 million vehicles have recalled with 50 million inflators, while 16.7 million inflators are waiting to be replaced.
Takata Corporation, which filed for bankruptcy after the safety scandal erupted in 2016, was the original manufacturer of inflators which were installed by automakers from model years 2002 to 2015. The inflator if somehow ruptured in heavy crash, sprays metal shards all over the passenger cabin leading to disaster consequences. Even the shrapnel could be sent onto the occupant, a life-threatening outcome for a supposed to be life saving device. NHTSA has reported at-least 15 deaths by the faulty inflators in the USA, Worldwide the number goes up to 23 deaths and 300 injuries. This called for an immediate action for replacement of the gruesome device from the vehicles.
Toyota’s new recall includes vehicles from model year 2010 to 2017 and about 1.3 million vehicles only from USA. Affected models include Sienna minivan, corolla sedan, 4Runner SUV from the 2010-2016 model years and GX SUV, IS and ES passenger cars from 2010-2017 model years and others. 10 million inflators are scheduled for replacement soon by other automakers.
The defect which led to the bankruptcy of Takata Corporation in June 2017 has been a major setback for the automaker industry and has cost the industry in billions. A study by AlixPartners reported that Automotive recalls cost $22 billion for 53.1 million recalls to the automotive industry in 2016 which is 26% increase over the previous year. The report also mentioned that although the recall cost Takata $1 billion and bankruptcy, and billions more to the automakers, the original equipment manufacturers are still lagging behind in innovation with most OEMs focusing only on cost reduction while underinvesting in quality improvement.
The recall has not come smooth for US road safety regulator NHTSA either, an internal audit report in the US government has put the blame for delayed recall of the vehicles on NHTSA. The top body responsible for enforcing road safety regulations has been accused for delay in investigation on the complaints about the inflator and thus for putting public at risk.