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Explosion in Brand New VW Prompts U.S. to Expand Takata Air Bag Probe

Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Aug 28, 2015 in Product Liability

Volkswagen Takata airbag incidentBack in June, a Volkswagen (VW) SUV and a deer collided, triggering a side air bag to inflate too forcefully. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Justice Department are now investigating Takata Corp. of Japan in the face of mounting safety concerns.

The June 7th crash included the left side air bag of a 2015 VW Tiguan inflating and an exploding metal canister. Earlier, Takata said that this issue only happened in older designed front and passenger air bags. The June 7th collision is the first of its kind in a VW with a newer Takata air bag design as well as the first in a side air bag.

According to VW spokesman, Mark Gillies, there have been no other incidents of air bag inflators rupturing in VW vehicles. Gillies is unsure how long the company has used Takata air bags and how many VW vehicles have Takata air bags installed.

Takata has said that they are investigating the incident, but does not believe the situation is tied to the defective airbags that led to a record-breaking recall this year.

A chemical called ammonium nitrate is in Takata air bags and functions by causing a small explosion that quickly inflates the air bags. The problem is, when the chemical is exposed to airborne moisture, it can lost its stability and explode. This reaction causes the metal container that is supposed to contain the small explosion to blow into pieces.

Orders were sent by the NHTSA to VW and Takata that necessitate further information regarding the crash and air bag tests. Whether this will lead to an additional recall, only time will tell.

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