Published: Wed, July 12, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Man dies when air bag inflator ruptures amid auto fix

Man dies when air bag inflator ruptures amid auto fix

Japanese auto parts company Takata (TKTDF) is recalling an additional 2.7 million airbag inflators in the US, after the company determined they could explode in the event of a crash despite the use of a chemical additive to make sure of their safety.

Honda did not identify the deceased, but said the individual was on June 18, 2016, "attempting to perform unknown repairs inside the vehicle using a hammer while the ignition switch was in the "on" position".

The company said photos from a local police report indicate the inflator exploded and shot out metal fragments, but it remains unclear if this shrapnel caused the injuries the man died from the next day. The company has not been able to inspect the vehicle and is relying on police photos to make its determination, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said.

At least 17 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide are now linked to the issue. Over 42-million vehicles from more than a dozen automakers have been recalled due to defective Takata airbag inflators.

The problem touched off the largest automotive recall in USA history involving up to 69 million inflators and 42 million vehicles.

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NHTSA estimates that Honda has fixed almost 60 percent of all the recalled airbags within its own and Acura vehicles - but that still leaves millions of inflators needing a fix. "This triggered activation of the airbag inflator, which ruptured during deployment of the airbag". Takata inflators can explode with too much force when exposed to prolonged airborne moisture and hot-and-cold temperature cycles.

According to Honda, Alpha inflators can have as high as a 50-50 chance of exploding and injuring an occupant. Of those deaths, 16 occurred in Honda vehicles since May 2009.

Honda urged owners who have received recall notices to get repairs made as soon as possible, especially those with the most risky type of inflator.

Honda stressed Monday that it has enough replacement inflators to fix every Honda and Acura with a recalled Takata airbag (particularly the Alphas) - for free.

On Monday, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan Southern Michigan announced the appointment of Harvard University Professor Eric D. Green to administer the $1 billion fund that Takata was required to set up to compensate drivers who purchased autos that were built with the faulty parts. US supplier Key Safety Systems is set to purchase almost all of the company's global assets for $1.59 billion, which is still far short of what the company will ultimately face when all is said and done.

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