The Takata airbag recall may be edging closer to 30 million defective airbag inflators each month, but U.S. auto safety regulators claim that nearly 85 million more unrecalled inflators may eventually be recalled if Takata can’t prove they’re safe.
The defective airbag inflators installed in the recalled vehicles can cause even the most minor impacts to escalate into fatal events due to the sensitive nature of the inflators. When a defective inflator is triggered by a collision, it can cause the airbag itself to explode and blast metal shrapnel into those sitting in the cabin. The results of this defect have caused more than 11 people to be killed worldwide, including the recent death of a 17-year-old driver in Texas.
According to Reuters, analysts have determined that if all 85 million airbag inflators are found to be unfit for U.S. vehicles, Takata could face a bill of more than $3.5 million in inflator recall costs. However, the airbag manufacturer does have until 2019 to determine whether the unrecalled airbag inflators are safe or not.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) broke down the remaining Takata airbags still on the road: 43.4 million passenger side inflators, 26.9 side airbag inflators and 14.5 million driver side inflators. Government auto safety experts in Japan, however, did not have similar estimates to the NHTSA, but did confirm that there have been 12 million airbags recalled thus far.
Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for NHTSA, criticized the automaker’s current strategy of notifying consumers of recalls, such as first-class mailing, calling it inadequate. “More must be done,” Thomas told Fortune magazine.
Takata has not released a statement in regard to the NHTSA’s latest statements on the Takata airbag recall.