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Takata Recall Spotlight

State of Takata Air Bag Recalls | Fourth Report

January 7, 2021

Today, NHTSA released the Independent Takata Monitor’s fourth report on the state of the Takata air bag recalls.

In 2020, there were nearly 5 million additional repairs of defective air bag inflators, and as of December 2020, thirteen vehicle manufacturers were reporting total completion percentages of at least 70%, seven at least 80%, and one over 90%. As of January 2021, approximately 67 million inflators are under recall for nineteen affected vehicle manufacturers, of which approximately 50 million have been repaired or are otherwise accounted for.  Unrepaired air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death. Eighteen people in the United States have been killed by defective Takata air bags, and reports suggest that more than 400 have been injured.

Highlights of the 2020 update:

  • Efforts continue to demonstrate that recall completion can be improved through the implementation of an enhanced comprehensive outreach strategy, including using frequent multi-channel outreach, an assortment of messages and refreshed owner data.
  • Summits and working groups have fostered industry collaboration among affected vehicle manufacturers and third-party stakeholders. In September 2020, the NHTSA Independent Takata Monitor held a summit where representatives from state DMVs and local road authorities discussed future engagements. Working groups continue to promote safety collaboration between the affected vehicle manufacturers in their common areas of focus depending on evolving needs.
  • State DMVs have proven to be especially valuable partners in the Takata recalls. DMV letters, with logo or emblem of the state DMV, were sent to vehicle owners identified as having an open Takata recall in 18 target states through October 2020. Incremental Takata recall repairs increased on average by 219% after DMV letter mailings.  
  • Manufacturers also engaged with other State and local agencies to conduct similar campaigns.  A recent letter campaign using the logo of La Puente, California, resulted in incremental repairs that were 166-202% higher than the rest of California, notwithstanding the social distancing orders issued in California in early March.
  • As part of a comprehensive recall acceleration strategy, many affected manufacturers have provided franchised dealers with tools such as vehicle owner contact information, outreach templates, and additional dealer incentives, and then shared these best practices for the Takata recalls, which has resulted in historically high completion percentages achieved during the course of the recalls.  
  • Important considerations for moving forward include: developing more sophisticated data-driven strategies to reach affected owners, utilizing targeted communications and overcoming owner obstacles to obtaining repairs, maximizing the potential of franchised dealers, further engaging stakeholders, and identifying and addressing high-risk vehicles.

Seventeen million inflators have yet to be repaired or otherwise accounted for. As underscored by the fact that there were two fatal incidents in 2020, it is paramount that the affected vehicle manufacturers continue to maximize the tools they have developed over the last five years, and identify potential new tools and opportunities for increasing repair rates. It is only through continued focused effort that we can accelerate recall completion and work toward repairing all defective Takata air bag inflators.