The U.S. government added an additional 1.7 million vehicles from seven different automakers to the Takata airbag recall as part of its continuing push to repair volatile airbags that can deploy with lethal force.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is managing the monstrous recall, added vehicles made by BMW, Daimler Vans, Ferrari, Mercedes, Subaru, Tesla, and Volkswagen.
In its year-end report on the recall, NHTSA said that automakers have recalled 50.36 million Takata airbag units to date. Of those, 27.2 million were replaced, leaving more than 23 million unrepaired.
The Takata airbag recalls collectively form the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history. NHTSA plans to recall an additional 10 million airbag units this year and will continue recalling vehicles until the end of next year. By that time, the airbag recall will cover about 70 million vehicles.
In January, NHTSA announced a recall expansion that included vehicles made by Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Daimler Vans, Toyota, Tesla, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Subaru, Jaguar-Land Rover, McLaren, and Volkswagen.
Ford, Honda, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler expanded their Takata airbag recalls for 2019. Together, those recalls cover about 5 million vehicles – roughly half of the year’s total.
The latest round covers 826,144 Subarus, including certain 2010-2014 Forester, Legacy and Outback models; 266,044 BMWs from the 2000-2004 model years and 2007-2015 model years; 119,394 vehicles made by Volkswagen, including 2015-2017 Audi and Passat models; 159,689 vehicles from Daimler Vans spanning model years 2015-2017; 68,763 Model Tesla Model S vehicles from the 2014 -2016 model years; and 11,176 various model Ferraris from 2014-2018 model years.
The Takata recalls affect all airbag inflators that do not contain a desiccant (drying agent). Takata used ammonium nitrate, a hypersensitive and highly unstable chemical, as the propellant in the airbag inflators. Exposure to heat and high humidity degrades the ammonium nitrate, making it prone to explode the airbag.
At least 23 people have been killed by Takata airbags that exploded, blasting metal fragments of the airbag unit at vehicle occupants. More than 300 others have been injured and maimed by exploding Takata airbags.