Takata to Redesign Driver-Side Air Bag Inflators Over Deadly Defect

Jun 02, 2015 09:54 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Japanese supplier Takata announced this week that it will change the design of its driver-side air bag inflators found in more than 17 million vehicles covered by recalls around the globe.

In a written testimony released before a U.S. congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Takata executive Kevin Kennedy said the company will change the design of its driver-side air bags but it will continue to produce air bags that use ammonium nitrate propellant, according to The New York Times.

Companies making replacements for the faulty inflators won't use ammonium nitrate since studies have shown it can be dangerous during drastic temperature changes or after being exposed to moisture.

Takata meanwhile said in a press statement on Monday that they feel the chemical compound is "safe and effective for use in air bag inflators when properly engineered and manufactured."

Kennedy is expected to discuss Takata's plans to recall 33.8 million air bag inflators on Tuesday after the company finally admitted last month that its air bags could be defective and shoot out metal or plastic shrapnel at occupants.

"We deeply regret each instance in which a Takata inflator has ruptured, especially in those cases where someone has been injured or killed," Kennedy said in his testimony.

Faulty inflators have been linked to six deaths so far and Takata is aware of 67 inflator ruptures since 2003.

Recalls are expected to be completed in four stages: the first will target older vehicles registered in Southern U.S. states and its territories, according to Automotive News. Additional stages will cover newer models registered in U.S. states outside the high-humidity zone. 

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