Senators Call on Takata to Recall All Vehicles

WASHINGTON (Detroit Free Press/TNS) -

Two U.S. senators on Thursday called on auto-supplier Takata to voluntarily recall all vehicles with their air bags following reports that a side air-bag canister exploded two months ago in a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said earlier in the week that it was looking into the incident, which occurred in a June 7 crash near St. Louis. It was the first reported incident in a VW, the first in a side air bag and the first involving newer versions of Takata’s air bags, according to The Associated Press.

Some 33 million vehicles are already part of a recall underway to address older Takata air-bag inflators, which under some conditions have ruptured, killing eight people and injuring more than 100. That recall was ordered in May.

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to Kevin Kennedy, executive vice president of Takata in North America, saying that because the most recent incident involved a 2015 vehicle not under recall and outside an area of high humidity, the company should voluntarily recall all vehicles containing Takata air bags.

“This directly undercuts Takata’s continued insistence — despite growing evidence to the contrary — that the flaws in its air bag inflators are limited to prior designs in older model cars and only present when the air bags have prolonged exposure to extremely humid conditions,” the senators said.

They also urged the air-bag manufacturer to make public any data related to Takata’s testing of air bags so independent experts and analysts can review it.

The senators said they have “deep concern over the obfuscation and delay” that Takata has engaged in while “searching for a root cause of these defects.”

Takata officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A VW spokesman told the AP that the driver of the Tiguan did not seek medical attention but that he was unsure if the driver suffered any injuries. The spokesman said it was the only such incident involving a VW with a Takata air bag.