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Airbag Replacements Still Using Suspect Material

June 3, 2015

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An executive employed by Takata testified yesterday that Takata will continue to use ammonium nitrate in its airbags, including all replacement airbags, despite growing concerns that moisture and humidity can cause ammonium nitrate to break down, making the airbag susceptible to unexpectedly and violently exploding.  Ammonium nitrate has been used by Takata since the early 2000s to explode the airbag during a collision.  Kevin Kennedy, an executive vice president of Takata, said Takata will continue to use ammonium nitrate but acknowledged concerns about the propellant before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee yesterday in Washington D.C.  He claims Takata's use of the propellant "would go down significantly" in the future.  Mr. Kennedy testified that Takata is changing a design feature of the airbag that has nothing to do with ammonium nitrate.  He argued that the exact cause of the airbag failures is a mystery but that Takata was simply making the airbags the automakers specified.  Mitch Bainwol, president of Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, fired back that the automakers specify performance criteria, not basic safety.  He said that it is understood that the supplier (Takata) will provide a product that complies with safety regulations.  This is the most complicated recall in history and has automakers struggling to identify which cars contain the defective airbags.

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