U.S. Regulators Speed Up Defective Takata Air Bags Replacement

December 9, 2016, 7:44 PM UTC
A recalled Takata airbag inflator removed it from a Honda Pilot at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami Florida
A recalled Takata airbag inflator removed it from a Honda Pilot is shown at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami, Florida, United States on June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo - RTX2FCN5
Joe Skipper — Reuters

U.S. safety regulators have placed new requirements on automakers in an effort to accelerate recall repairs for millions of vehicle owners affected by faulty Takata air bags that have injured at least 184 and killed 11 people in the country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued Friday an amended order that requires automakers to speed up the timeframe for obtaining replacement parts and dictates that they focus on the riskiest vehicles first. The order has been sent to Takata and 19 automakers.

The order also sets progress and completion deadlines for replacements of the defective parts, which are dictated by priority group. For instance, the lowest priority group—vehicles seen as least risky—must have a replaced air bag by September 2020. The priority group one, the highest risk vehicles that were recalled May through December 2015, would need to reach at 85% replacement rate by December 2017, according to the new order.

“The Department of Transportation is maintaining its aggressive oversight of the efforts to recall Takata air bags as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The amended order will speed up the availability of replacement air bags, and continues to prioritize the highest risk vehicles to protect the traveling public.”

There are 46 million recalled Takata air bag inflators in 29 million vehicles in the United States, according to the DOT. Automakers reported that as of Dec. 2 they have repaired about 12.5 million inflators.

The recall will ultimately affecting 64 to 69 million inflators in 42 million total recalled vehicles.