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Takata urges new-design inflators or rival-made ones

Note: This story has been corrected to show Takata is encouraging use of its newly designed air bag inflators or those made by rivals without ammonium nitrate, not replacing the chemical altogether.

WASHINGTON - A top executive says Takata Corp. is encouraging automakers to replace defective air bag inflators with newly designed ones from the company, or with those made by competitors that don't include a volatile chemical.

The defect is linked to at least six deaths and more than 100 injuries.

Kevin Kennedy, executive vice president of North America for Takata Corp., will also tell Congress the company "deeply" regrets every rupture episode involving its air bags, especially those causing injury or death. Kennedy says in written testimony for a U.S. House hearing Tuesday that the percentage of air bag inflators likely to have a problem is "extremely small" but Takata is replacing all of them.

Fixing Takata airbags will take years, says expert

The company has declared 33.8 million air bags defective in an agreement with U.S. regulators. It's the biggest auto-safety recall in U.S. history.

Takata uses the chemical, ammonium nitrate, to inflate the air bags. It can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal inflator and sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

In replacing many faulty air bags, Takata is looking to make air bag inflators with a new design that use ammonium nitrate, or to use inflators made by rival suppliers which don't use the chemical, Kennedy said.

"We are working with our automaker partners to transition to newer versions of driver inflators in our replacement kits, or inflators made by other suppliers that do not contain ammonium nitrate propellant," Kennedy said in testimony prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee.

Already, half the replacements that Takata shipped to automakers last month had inflators made by its competitors, Kennedy said. By year's end, he said, that is expected to reach about 70 percent.

The Takata air bag problems began surfacing about a decade ago.

Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the auto industry are still trying to determine exactly what is causing Takata's inflators to explode, the agency said last week it decided the recall action needed to be taken immediately to protect the public.

Kennedy said there have been fewer than nine failures causing air bag ruptures in the U.S. out of every 100,000 air bag deployments. Most of them occurred in parts of the country with high heat and humidity, he said.

"It is unacceptable to us and incompatible with our safety mission for even one of our products to fail to perform as intended and to put people at risk," Kelly said in his written testimony.

Takata's agreement with NHTSA adds more than 18 million air bags to existing recalls, covering both the passenger and driver's side.

The agency sparred with Takata for the past year over the size of the recalls and the cause of the problem. For the most part, the air bag maker refused to declare the inflators defective and even questioned NHTSA's authority to order it to conduct a recall.

Which Makes and Models Are Recalled

According to the NHTSA, these makes and models (below) were previously recalled due to the Takata air bags. Recent updates are marked.

  • BMW:

2000 - 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 - 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 - 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 - 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 - 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 - 2006 M3 Convertible
2002-2005 325i/325xi/330i/330xi Sedan -- Updated May 28
2002-2005 325xi/325i Sports Wagon -- Updated May 28
2002-2006 330Ci/325Ci/M3 Convertible -- Updated May 28
2002-2006 325i/330i/M3 Coupe -- Updated May 28
2002-2003 M5/540i/525i/530i Sedan -- Updated May 28
2002-2003 540i/525i Sports Wagon -- Updated May 28
2003-2004 X5 3.0i/4.4i Sports Activity Vehicle -- Updated May 28

  • CHRYSLER:

2003 - 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2004 - 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup -- Updated May 28
2003, 2005 - 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 -- Updated May 28
2005 - 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 Pickup -- Updated May 28
2003, 2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 -- Updated May 28
2006 - 2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Pickup -- Updated May 28
2007-2009 Dodge Ram 3500 Cab Chassis -- Updated May 28
2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 - Dodge Ram 5500
2008 - 2010 Dodge Ram 45000/5500 Cab Chassis -- Updated May 28
2004 - 2008 Dodge Durango -- Updated May 28
2005 - 2011 Dodge Dakota -- Updated May 28
2005-2010 Dodge Charger/Magnum -- Updated May 28
2005 - 2010 Chrysler 300/300C/SRT8 -- Updated May 28
2007 - 2008 Chrysler Aspen -- Updated May 28
2008-2009 Sterling 4500/5500 Cab Chassis -- Updated May 28

  • CHEVROLET - Added May 29

2007 - 2008 Silverado 2500 HD
2007 - 2008 Silverado 3500 HD
2007 - 2008 GMC Sierra 2500 HD
2007 - 2008 GMC Sierra 3500 HD

  • FORD: -- Updated June 1

2004 - 2006 Ranger
2005 - 2006 GT
2005 - 2014 Mustang

  • GENERAL MOTORS:

2003 - 2005 Pontiac Vibe -- Added May 19: 2006 - 2007 Pontiac Vibe

  • HONDA

2001 - 2007 Honda Accord
2001 - 2002 Honda Accord -- Added May 19: 2003 Honda Accord
2001 - 2005 Honda Civic -- Added May 19: 2006 Honda Civic
2002 - 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 - 2011 Honda Element
2002 - 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 - 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 - Honda Ridgeline
2003 - 2006 Acura MDX
2002 - 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 - Acura RL

  • MAZDA:

2003 - 2007 Mazda 6
2006 - 2007 Mazda Speed6
2004 - 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 - 2005 MPV
2004 - B-Series Truck

  • MITSUBISHI:

2004 - 2006 Lancer / Lancer Evolution -- Updated May 28
2004 Lancer Sportback -- Updated May 28
2006 - 2007 Raider -- Added May 28: 2008 - 2010 Mitsubishi Raider

  • NISSAN:

2001 - 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 - 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 - 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 - 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 - 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 - 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45

  • SUBARU:

2003 - 2005 Baja
2003 - 2005 Legacy
2003 - 2005 Outback
2004 - 2005 Impreza
2005 Saab 9-2x -- Updated May 29

  • TOYOTA:

2002 - 2005 Lexus SC
2002 - 2005 Toyota Corolla -- Added May 19: 2006 - 2007 Toyota Corolla
2003 - 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix -- Added May 19: 2006 - 2007 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 - 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 - 2005 Toyota Tundra