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Tests on Takata air bags continue. Currently, Takata is conducting internal tests, and is also working with an independent research organization on additional testing. On March 2, 2015, the company held a meeting in Michigan to update engineers from automakers as to the results of those tests. So far, they haven’t found any definitive answer as to why the air bags are exploding, but reiterated that heat and humidity seem to have something to do with it.

Takata Announces Results of Ongoing Tests

According to Reuters, Takata presented the results of their tests to a group of engineers, including independent OEM consortium engineers and engineers from automakers. In addition to sharing their own results, Takata also hosted a presentation from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, which is also providing independent research on the air bags.

Takata chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takata stated that while the tests have not yet concluded, results so far have indicated that age and long-term exposure to heat and high absolute humidity are “significant factors” in the inflators that have exploded. He added that the variety of vehicle makes and models in which air bag failures have occurred is an additional factor, as well as variability in the inflator manufacturing process.

Takata and Automakers Testing Air Bags

Takata is only one of several entities that are looking into the problems with Takata air bags.

• Ten automakers, led by Toyota, have announced their intentions to conduct independent testing.
• A few months ago, Honda announced a global investigative recall, during which they plan to conduct tests on failed air bags.
• Plaintiffs in Takata air bag lawsuits have recently received support for their own independent testing, when the NHTSA demanded Takata set aside 10 percent of recalled air bags for plaintiff use.
• The NHTSA itself has begun an engineering analysis into the products.

The problem is that some of these air bags have exploded upon deployment, sending shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle and resulting in serious injuries and sometimes death to the occupants. So far, however, no one has come up with a definitive cause of these explosions, though there have been a number of theories.

One of those came last fall from Takata. They explained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that their tests indicated hot weather and humidity played a role in causing the explosions. The company implemented regional recalls based on that information.

Critics later noted that some of the explosions had occurred in dry climates and called on Takata to broaden their recalls. The NHTSA did the same in October 2014, but Takata resisted. So far, automakers have stepped up to cover those requested recalls in all 50 states.

NHTSA Fines Takata for Failing to Cooperate with Investigation

The NHTSA started fining Takata $14,000 a day on February 27, 2015, stating that the company had failed to cooperate with their investigation into the air bag problem. Takata argued that they have been cooperating, and have turned over 2.4 million documents to the administration. The NHTSA stated that the company had failed to provide any sort of guidance on the documents, even after being asked to do so.

In February 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established the Takata air bag MDL in the Southern District of Florida. Judge Federico A. Moreno was chosen to oversee the proceedings.

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