Takata will change design for certain air bag inflators

Mon Jun 1, 2015 6:53pm EDT
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By Paul Lienert

(Reuters) - Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) said on Monday that it will continue producing air bags that use ammonium nitrate propellant, but will change the design of the driver-side air bag inflators.

The Japanese supplier is at the center of a global recall of tens of millions of cars for potentially deadly air bag inflators that could deploy with too much force and spray metal fragments inside vehicles.

In written testimony ahead of a U.S. congressional hearing scheduled on Tuesday, Takata executive Kevin Kennedy said other companies producing replacements for potentially defective Takata inflators will not use ammonium nitrate.

Kennedy said Takata is working with automakers "to transition to newer versions of driver inflators in our replacement kits or inflators made by other suppliers that do not contain ammonium nitrate."

A Takata spokesman added that replacement inflators made by Takata will continue to use ammonium nitrate, "which is safe and effective for use in air bag inflators when properly engineered and manufactured."

Lawmakers, some plaintiffs' attorneys and former Takata employees have raised questions about the volatility and safety of ammonium nitrate. Takata is the only major air bag supplier using ammonium nitrate in its inflators.

Defective inflators have been linked to six deaths and hundreds of injuries since 2003.

Takata also said it was "confident" that replacement driver-side inflators with ammonium nitrate already installed in owners' cars are safe, although it plans to replace those replacement parts with newer designs.   Continued...

A sign with the TAKATA logo is seen outside the Takata Corporation building in Auburn Hills, Michigan May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook