US: authorities mull expanded recall, VW probes Takata airbags

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Germany’s Volkswagen AG announced recently it was harnessing Takata airbags from its models for testing purposes and also told the US auto safety regulator that if recalls are expanded to encompass their vehicles they would need more than a year to have replacement parts ready. Volkswagen sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claiming they would need to develop and test new airbag inflators and the replacement procedure would further be delayed by a shortage of production capacity. The automaker said the VW, Bentley, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini brands used around 2.4 million Takata airbag inflators across models sold in the United States. VW is not the only automaker to complain about not easily accessible replacement parts as six other automakers targeted the same issue in letters to NHTSA made public last week. The NHTSA initiated communication with the companies last month to find out how they used Takata airbags that had ammonium nitrate as a propellant. Takata explained the chemical appears to be one of the underlying factors – though not the only one – contributing to airbag ruptures that have resulted in eight deaths, more than 100 injuries and a recall of around 19 million vehicles in the US alone. The NHTSA could order the Takata recall to be expanded to encompass automakers – including Volkswagen – that were so far spared and could deliver yet another blow to the company engulfed in its biggest business crisis in its 78-year existence following the revelation it had rigged diesel emissions tests and equipped 11 million vehicles worldwide with illegal software. Via Bloomberg