Nissan has recalled over 1,800 Infiniti SUVs in the United States after discovering a possible problem that may cause the vehicles’ airbags to be defective. According to the company, the problem may cause the airbag to send shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment when it is activated.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice about the Nissan Infiniti recall on Friday morning, which applies to some 2013 model QX56 SUVs and the 2014 QX80. According to Nissan, the Infiniti airbag inflators were manufactured with an incorrect outer baffler part, which may induce a prolonged build-up of pressure and cause the inflator to rupture if the driver’s airbag was ever deployed. According to a federal auto safety agent, this could potentially cause serious injury to the occupants of the vehicle, as metal fragments would be sent flying throughout the interior of the car.
General Motors already recalled approximately 33,000 Cruze model compact cars in June of this year after discovering the same problem. The Takata Corporation, the manufacturer of the defective airbag, has released a statement saying that the only vehicles affected are those already recalled by Nissan and GM.
The Infiniti recall remains separate from an earlier recall which covered at least eight million U.S. vehicles, also due to a potentially defective Takata airbag. The recall was due to the potential for prolonged exposure to high humidity, which can cause an inflator malfunction and an explosion that is much more powerful than was originally intended when the airbag is activated.
The humidity issue is currently being investigated by the NHTSA, which may expand the size of the recall. Currently, it covers vehicles from 10 separate manufacturers. Lawmakers have claimed that the defective airbag has already caused four deaths and say that there may be up to 30 million defective airbags in U.S. vehicles currently on the road. Lawmakers are also fighting to expand the recall to a nationwide scale after some manufacturers have limited their recalls to specific high-humidity areas.
Takata is the world’s second largest airbag manufacturer and lays claim to 22 percent of the global market. The Infiniti recall is just the latest problem for the Tokyo-based company, which has struggled with ongoing issues since 2001, when Japanese auto company Izuzu reported that an airbag had exploded in an Izuzu Rodeo.
The company’s problems may soon get worse. The NHTSA has begun to question Takata about why the Nissan Infiniti and other vehicles are being produced with defective airbags and has submitted over 36 separate requests for data on possible production mistakes, as well as any lawsuits or reports of injuries and/or deaths that it may have received. The company has until December to provide the requested information or it may be charged with fines of up to $7,000 per day.
A Takata spokesman has stated that the company intends to cooperate and is working hard to provide the requested information in due time. It has already given several explanations for defective airbags, including improper welding, defective stamping equipment, humid conditions at its Mexico factory and an incorrect amount of generant, which is used to produce the gas that causes the airbag to inflate.
By Mathew Channer