The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered automakers to quicken their recalls of vehicles that are equipped with defective Taka airbags.
The NHTSA announced on Dec. 9 that it was speeding up its initiative to replace the airbags after officials became concerned with the slow pace that automakers are taking to fix the defective parts.
With 29 million vehicles already subjected to the recall and the number expected to reach 42 million, automakers are having trouble meeting the demands of the NHTSA as airbag inflators cannot be produced fast enough to meet demand.
Takata’s airbag inflators caused the largest auto recall in U.S. history when it was discovered that with the age of the airbags, the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflator can deteriorate and become volatile, causing it to explode and shoot out metal shrapnel. The defect has caused 11 deaths in the U.S. and is responsible for injuring hundreds of people around the world.
In light of the shortage of parts needed to complete the recall, NHTSA officials have ordered automakers to focus on priority vehicles, especially older model vehicles located in warm environments, to be serviced first.
Since many vehicles contain more than one airbag, the NHTSA believes that it will take between 64 million to 69 million inflators to complete the 42 million vehicle recall by the 2020 deadline. So far only 12.5 million inflators have been replaced.