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The Takata airbag case has become the largest product recall in history, caused over 20 deaths, and cost many billions of dollars. Replacement efforts are still ongoing, and sadly, the body count continues to rise. Against this backdrop, further recalls have been announced affecting another type of Takata airbag. [accc.gov.au]
The recall affects BMW 3 Series vehicles, produced between 1997 and 2000. Notably, it appears these cars may have been built before Takata’s fateful decision to produce airbag inflators using ammonium nitrate propellants [hackaday.com], known for their instability. Instead, these vehicles likely used Takata’s proprietary tetrazole propellant, or Non-Azide Driver Inflators (NADI). These were developed in the 1990s, and considered a great engineering feat at the time. [autonews.com] They were eventually phased out around 2001 for cost reasons [bloomberg.com], leading to the scandal that rolls on to this day.
As these airbags were produced before the switch to ammonium nitrate, they have thus far escaped scrutiny as part of existing recalls. Two recent incidents of airbag misdeployments in Australia lead to the recall, causing a death and a serious injury. BMW Australia have advised owners not to drive affected vehicles, and are offering loan or hire cars to affected vehicles. Given the age of the affected vehicles, the company is considering a buyback program in the event that suitable replacement parts cannot be made available.
This development is foreboding, as it suggests yet more cars, originally considered safe, are now at risk of injuring or killing occupants in the event of a crash. It’s not yet clear exactly which makes are effected by this recall, but expect the numbers of vehicles to continue to climb.
[via Sydney Morning Herald [smh.com.au]]