Takata discloses air bags with a new flaw were made from 2008-2014

Sat Nov 1, 2014 1:10pm EDT
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - Takata Corp disclosed for the first time that it began making air bags with a recently discovered flaw as early as 2008, in a report to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the agency released on Saturday.

Takata sent the report to the NHTSA this week, providing details on the defect and the dates of its manufacture, 2008 to 2014. It was the latest revelation related to problems with Takata air bags that have led to the recall of 17 million cars worldwide.

The new flaw was discovered in June: a driver-side air-bag inflator may contain a bad part that could cause the inflator to rupture. So far, two manufacturers, General Motors Co and Nissan Motor Co, have recalled a combined 30,867 cars to address the problem.

However, those cars came only from model years 2013-2014. In the report released today, Takata said it had been making the parts from 2008 through June 2014 at Takata's Monclova plant in Mexico.

The report also said ruptures in the airbags installed on General Motors vehicles showed a "very different" pattern from those in cars made by other manufacturers that were recalled for similar problems.

Takata's latest report does not say how many more vehicles could be affected by the new problem. A Takata spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

While the cause of the rupture in the GM and Nissan cars is different, the result is similar: air bags can explode with excessive force in a crash and send metal shards into the vehicle's cabin. At least four deaths and more than a dozen injuries have been linked to the defective air bags.

The latest problem, involving the installation of an incorrect baffle, was uncovered after a lawsuit was filed against GM and Takata in April. That suit alleged that an October 2013 accident left a Georgia woman, Brandi Owens, blind in one eye and claimed her car and driver-side air bag were "defective and unreasonably dangerous."   Continued...

A man walks past a sign board of Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp's Annual General Meeting in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files