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Regulators Said Takata Still Need To Recall 85 Million Airbags

Apr 14, 2016 06:54 AM EDT

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday said Takata needs to recall its defective airbags, unless the company prove them to be safe. Otherwise Takata must recall all 85 millions airbags in US cars and trucks.

The economic pressure has led Takata to mishandle its airbag defect. New York Times reported to have examined hundreds of pages of internal Takata documents and emails. Based on the $100 cost of each airbag, it means a millions of dollars in expense for the auto parts supplier.

New York Times also several lawsuit against Takata over its defective airbags. One plaintiff is Patricia Mincey who was paralyzed from the neck down after, accident in June 2014 died this week from complication. Her lawyer Theodore Leopold announced the death on Wednesday, "Takata's conduct went from tragic to catastrophic by causing Ms. Mincey's untimely death."

Takata offer condolences in the company's statement to ms. Mincey death, "We are saddened by the news of Patricia Mincey's death and offer our condolences to the Mincey family."

Defective airbags manufactured by Takata have linked to at least 11 deaths around the world with more than 100 injuries, including recent case in United States. CBS News reported that a teenage driver was killed two weeks ago in Richmond, Texas. The 17-year old was killed after Takata airbag in her Honda Civic ruptured in a crash.

The source of problem is ammonium nitrate propellant which Takata uses in its airbag inflaters. Ammonium nitrate is a compound which easily destabilized, and in extreme cases can lead to explosion and sending metal fragments and shrapnel into the vehicle. Airbags division is the major part of Takata's business, generating about 40% of the company's sales.

On Wednesday, according to Reuters, NHTSA made the first public accounting by the US government of the total number of unrecalled Takata air bag inflators. NHTSA announced that there are remaining 85 million airbags which needs to be recalled, unless Takata is able to prove their safety.

So far fourteen carmakers have recalled 28.8 million of Takata airbags installed in 24 million cars. The recall of remaining airbags will bring a total recall of 113 million airbags which could cost Takata billions of dollars.

Honda is the automaker which affected the most by the defective airbags. The company has recalled the largest number of vehicles over the issue. Honda had announced to drop Takata as its airbag suppliers, followed by Toyota and Nissan last November. Three of them are the largest car manufacturers in Japan.

Takata still needs to improve safety of its product, as NHTSA warned that Takata eventually will have to recall its remaining airbags. The safety regulators said Wednesday that Takata must prove the remaining 85 million airbags in US cars are safe to prevent total recall.

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