It turns out that despite signs it was unsafe, automakers have been embracing Takata’s airbag technology for the past two decades.
In the late 1990s, an obscure Japanese supplier named Takata approached GM with an offer to supply them with cheaper airbags. Turning to its then-supplier, Swedish-American company Autoliv, the automaker asked them to match its design or risk losing their contract. But there was a problem.
When Autoliv’s scientists tested the Takata device, they found that inflation relied on a dangerously volatile compound. They decided they could not match the design due to safety concerns.
That compound is now at the center of the largest automotive recall in history. Worldwide, 14 people have died and more than 100 others have been injured due to the faulty airbags. The airbags were installed into the vehicles manufactured by General Motors and 16 other manufacturers.
The savings is just a few dollars per airbag, yet evidence indicates that the quest for savings compromised the critical safety device.
Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesperson said that the discussions with Takata occurred prior to GM reorganizing due to bankruptcy in 2009. Because the discussions concerned “old GM” and a supplier, it was not appropriate to comment.
Takata began embracing ammonium nitrate as the inflating agent after a series of explosions at its Moses Lake, Washington plant forced the company to purchase airbags from a competitor to get them to automakers. The compound is cheaper but changes in temperature and moisture make it more volatile.
Scientists working for Takata at the time raised concerns, but those concerns went unheeded. Autoliv tested the devices around this time in the late 1990s and found that the explosion destroyed the inflating devices. Their concerns were such that they warned automakers of the dangers.
Still, no recalls regarding the devices were issued until 2008, when Honda began issuing the first recalls. It wasn’t until 2013 that other auto manufacturers also began issuing recalls for the vehicles with Takata airbags.
Today, more than 64 million airbags have been involved in the recall.
If you have been injured by a defective Takata airbag, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the law offices of John Foy & Associates. The “Strong Arm” attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.