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Supply Vs Demand: Can Takata Replace All The Defective Inflators Being Recalled?

June 17, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

It has been eight years since the defects in Takata airbag inflators were discovered and recalled, but the auto industry is still reeling from the massive recall. So far we have only just discovered what caused the defects, and now—as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines if even more vehicles need to be recalled—automakers are discovering that Takata may not be able to handle the sheer volume of replacement parts needed.

Can Takata Replace All The Defective Inflators Being Recalled?

With the current airbag recall covering tens of millions of vehicles, and the NHTSA considering if more vehicles should be recalled, more companies are stepping up to fill in the gaps left by Takata. Airbag manufacturers Autoliv, Daicel Corp, and ZF-TRW have all stepped up to help meet the demands of an industry in crisis. These companies are trying to create replacement parts that will fit in the Takata units that are being recalled, but these companies are running into several complications that could delay production.

What Is Delaying The Production Of Replacement Parts?

Since some of the cars affected by the recall go all the way back to the 2000 model year, many of the tooling and manufacturing facilities don’t exist anymore. This means new systems will have to be made for manufacturing obsolete parts. However, this isn’t the only problem delaying replacement parts.

Airbag designs are not uniform between manufacturers, which means that the new companies making Takata replacements will have to redesign many of their inflator models to fit in Takata products, and these designs can also vary from automaker to automaker. Once these replacements are designed, they will have to be tested to make sure they are safe. This process usually takes two to three years, but manufacturers will only have months to do it.

Right now Takata is providing their designs to rival manufacturers to speed up the process, but with reports of new injuries—and an unconfirmed airbag-related death in Texas—time is running out to save lives.

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