First Honda, then Mazda and now Toyota and Nissan have decided to stop using Takata’s airbag inflator in their vehicles from here on for the foreseeable future. The exploding airbags have been linked with eight deaths and hundreds of injures, and some 50 million vehicles worldwide have been recalled over the problem. Takata’s future and its shares have fallen 40% this week alone. They’re down nearly 75% since the airbag scandal broke last year.
“In line with the recent announcement from the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration we have decided to no longer use inflators containing ammonium nitrate in airbags for future models,” Nissan said in a brief statement.
“We will continue to put our customers’ safety first and work to replace the inflators in vehicles under recall as quickly as possible,” it said.
More than 30 million vehicles in the United States, made by 10 different automakers, have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side or both. The airbags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2008, although it has been expanded through 2014 in some cases. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants. At the heart of the problem is the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which in some cases has ignited with explosive force. If the inflator housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the airbag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.
Japanese automaker Honda dropped Takata airbags in the wake of the scandal recently. The company said in a statement: “Honda expects its suppliers to act with integrity at all times and we are deeply troubled by this apparent behavior by one of our suppliers.”
Takata has said it would phase out ammonium nitrate, which it uses in most of its inflators, by the end of 2018.