The US federal government announced on May 4th that the infamous Takata airbag recall will be expanded to include another 35 to 40 million air bag inflators. That could double the size of the already cripplingly large recall.
The recall expansion includes vehicles made by three companies that have not been part of the recall until now: Jaguar-Land Rover, along with Tesla and Fisker. Prior to this latest addition, the Takata recall was already the largest automotive safety recall in United States history.
It is not yet clear exactly which vehicles among those brands are covered, though if experience can be used as any sort of guide, that list will probably expand by the time this all blows over. The NHTSA has dedicated an entire web page to the recall, although as of this writing, that page specifically states that the vehicles in the May 4th recall expansion are not yet incorporated into its online list of affected vehicles.
Takata air bag inflators can explode with too much force and injure people. So far, at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries have been reported worldwide.
The government predicts that the recall work will take until the end of 2019 to complete. The expansion will be phased in between this month and December 2019, with older cars and those in areas of high heat and humidity getting priority, the agency said.
The sheer size and scope of the recall has made replacing the inflators a daunting task for a number of reasons. Air bag manufacturers have had trouble making enough replacement inflators, with companies other than Takata joining the effort in order to meet the huge demand. Automakers have also had difficulty finding owners and persuading them to get cars repaired. After two years, only 28 percent of the 28.8 million inflators involved in the current recall have been replaced.
NHTSA officials said vehicles younger than six years old are not currently at risk even if they are in a high humidity region. But the risk grows as they age, especially in high humidity areas where temperatures frequently cycle from cool to very hot. Vehicles in Florida or Gulf Coast states are more at risk than in Washington, D.C., for example.
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