The U.S. regulator overseeing the replacement of Takata Corp. air bags is considering an order that would expand the recalls and has contacted seven manufacturers who could be affected, including Volkswagen AG and Tesla Motors Inc.
Takata identified the seven as companies that it’s supplied with air bag inflators that use ammonium nitrate propellant, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in letters dated Sept. 22. Takata has said that the chemical propellant appears to be one of many factors contributing to air bag ruptures linked to at least eight deaths and 130 injuries.
The Japanese company told NHTSA in July that it continued to supply air bags with ammonium nitrate to Volkswagen and Tesla. The agency contacted those manufacturers, as well as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Suzuki Motor Corp., Volvo Trucks and Spartan Motors Inc., to ask whether they’re contemplating service actions and what challenges they’d face if NHTSA ordered a wider scope for the recalls.
NHTSA has so far confirmed Takata’s main findings related to the root cause behind the air-bag failures — that the defect may be related to age, prolonged exposure to high humidity and moisture altering the chemical makeup of the ammonium nitrate inflator propellant, according to an agency official who requested anonymity to brief reporters on a conference call this month. NHTSA plans to hold a public hearing this fall to present its findings on the cause of the failures and how it plans to proceed, the official had said.
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