Product Liability

Honda Confirms Takata Airbag Kills Sixth Person in Malaysia

Honda Takata airbags 375x210 Honda Confirms Takata Airbag Kills Sixth Person in MalaysiaA defective Takata airbag has been blamed for the death of another driver in Malaysia, Honda Malaysia said in a statement Jan. 30. The latest fatality brings the Takata airbag death toll in the Southeast Asian nation to six and the global toll to 22.

Honda said the driver-side Takata airbag inflator ruptured inside a 2004 Honda City vehicle. The passenger-side airbag also deployed in the collision and functioned properly. The crash occurred on New Year’s Day in the central part of Sengalor state, the Japanese automaker said.

All of the Takata deaths in Malaysia have occurred in 2003-2009 Honda City models, and all but two deaths worldwide have occurred in Honda vehicles. All of the other deaths worldwide have occurred in the U.S. except for one death in Australia.

Honda Malaysia said the vehicle involved in the Jan. 1 incident was included in a Malaysian Product Recall on May 21, 2015, but had never been repaired. The automaker’s statement about the recall notices underscores the problem of tracking down owners of older vehicles that may have changed ownership at least once.

“Several notification letters related to the recall were sent out to the then owners of the vehicle based on the information in our database, yet the letters were not sent to the current owner due to the change of ownership. Our records indicate that the recall replacement was never completed.”

Honda Malaysia said that as of Jan. 25, it had completed more than 221,000 replacements of driver-side front Takata airbag inflators, a completion rate of 84 percent.

Takata airbag inflators are made with ammonium nitrate – a highly volatile chemical used as a propellant to inflate the airbags. While other automakers have avoided using ammonium nitrate in their inflators, Takata built an empire on its cheaply made airbags.

Takata’s empire has since crumbled under the weight of its airbag recalls, which together form the largest automotive recall in the U.S. and one of the largest consumer product recalls ever in the world. The Takata airbag recall in the U.S. alone covers more than 70 million inflator units installed in about 42 million vehicles.