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Four automakers still using defective Takata airbags

by Drew Johnson

Some automakers are still using an airbag with a known defect.

At least four automakers are still selling, or are planning to sell, new vehicles with defective airbags produced by Takata, a new report by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation finds.

Despite a deadly defect that has caused at least 100 injuries in the United States and 13 deaths worldwide, four automakers — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen — told the Senate Committee that they will continue to sell new vehicles with the non-desiccated Takata inflators. Vehicles slated to be sold with the recalled airbags include the 2016 and 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, 2016 VW CC, 2016 Audi TT and 2017 Audi R8. Toyota didn't provide any specific model details, but the company said it plans to sell about 175,000 vehicles equipped with the airbags between March 2016 and July 2017. FCA declined to give model details or the number of vehicles it plans to sell with Takata's non-desiccated inflators.

Although worrying, those four automakers aren't breaking any laws. Per a Consent Order automakers are still allowed to sell new vehicles with the defective airbag design because it is believed it takes several years for the inflator to deteriorate to the point of being a danger. However, if Takata can't prove that its non-desiccated inflators are safe by the end of 2018, all vehicles equipped with the airbags must be recalled.

Moreover, the Committee found that the majority of replacement airbags that have been installed in recalled vehicles have been the same kind of ammonium-nitrate inflators that were recalled in the first place. That amounts to nearly 4.7 million vehicles. In all likelihood those vehicles will be recalled after 2018.

In all the Committee expects more than 60 million vehicles to be recalled in the U.S., which is about one out of every four vehicles on the road today.