WASHINGTON — As federal safety regulators consider ways to speed up the recall of defective Takata airbag inflators, some U.S. senators are questioning whether Takata's new airbag inflators also pose a serious safety risk.
Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Thursday asked Takata to explain if there's a connection between recent side airbag ruptures in some newer vehicles and the previously issued recall on millions of vehicles with defective airbags.
"We seek to gain a better understanding as to whether these incidents are connected to the defects associated with the previous recalls, as well as whether they reflect issues related to the newer ammonium-nitrate based inflators," the letter said.
Specifically, the senators are referring to a June 2015 incident in which a piece of metal shrapnel struck the driver of a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan when the vehicle's side airbag inflator ruptured during deployment.
"Although the driver did not require immediate medical attention, the incident raises a number of questions regarding the scope of current recalls," the letter said.
In addition, General Motors recalled about 400 2015 vehicles, including the Buick LaCrosse, on October 16 for potentially defective side airbags due to the failure of a side airbag inflator at the Takata Moncolva, Mexico plant on October 5, 2015.
A November 13 deadline has been set for Takata's response.
Edmunds says: Lawmakers — and consumers — are demanding answers to new concerns about Takata airbag inflators.