The Story of Takata Killer Airbags


It all happened not far from Houston. Carlos Solis the father of two children was on his way to the brother on that January Sunday. His cousin, as well as a dog, were inside too.

When they were close to the destination point their car got hit. The speed was not that quick and damage was not that serious. The girl and dog had no injuries. However, the driver did not make it. He died straight away.

takata killer airbags

This story could well be a scenario for a horror film but it is not. The reason of death was faulty air bag. As it turned out later it was the biggest recall ever known in U.S.A. More than sixty million air bags were risky for life. BMW, Ford, Honda, Tesla, Toyota and twelve other brands had to get rid of airbags by Takata. Numerous trials, 13 deaths, and more than 100 injuries this is the result of a careless approach by Takata. To make matters worse, the company knew about this problem but still sold the air bags. To understand more you need to know some history and production aspects.

How it’s all began

Back in 1930s Japanese company, Takata started producing parachutes for the army. In 1960s manufacturer started to work with Japanese carmakers providing them with seat belts. In a few years, Takata signed a contract with Honda. The company got involved in air bags production. It was a success. Till recently.

takata killer airbags trial
As for airbags, it is a mistake to think that they use air. Gas is used to fill them. Burning propellant creates it. Usually propellant triggers explosives and guns, however, it is compressed when in air bags. It is placed inside of inflator which is a small tube made of metal. When a crash occurs the tubes get ignited and turn into gas. It all happens in milliseconds.

Takata signed a beneficial contract with prestigious companies which made it possible for them to produce air bags at the base of Air Force. Propellant by Takata was originally based on common chemicals used for torpedoes. It had a flaw. This propellant was toxic and many carmakers wanted an alternative.

So Takata decided to take a more simple approach which was cheaper as well. They started to use ammonium nitrate for creating propellant. Its disadvantage is that ammonium goes through five phases of varying density. In other words, it is unstable. Takata engineers knew about it and they warned top management. Nonetheless, money was more important. This is how fatal airbags were sent into production.

takata airbags crash test
By no means were Takata fair and the company deceived the carmakers to sell the air bags. Now that they are recalled and trials are in process Takata rejects the fact that they were aware of what they did.

Nevertheless, company expresses their regrets to those buyers who suffered from their products. It sounds ridiculous because many engineers prove that they had signalized the problem. This story makes you think about how careful you should be when trusting a life to a manufacturer or carmaker.
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