Takata Corp. has changed the recipe for its airbag propellant containing a volatile chemical that is now the focus of a callback of millions of vehicles globally. A Takata official told Reuters disclosed that ammonium nitrate remained one of the ingredients. He said that the change was part of its process of "kaizen," or continual improvement, adding that Takata believed the new composition was safer than the one used before.
He, however, said that despite the change, Takata is not admitting to a defect with the original version as there has not been any finding that ammonium nitrate or the earlier composition “was somehow flawed.” He noted that the composition of the airbag propellant was changed to improve quality.
The official also told Reuters that Takata used the modified mix in replacement bags installed in recalled vehicles that were brought in. He said that so far, the company has not met any problems with the new versions.
Takata has said the original version of the compound could make the inflators explode with excessive force when exposed to moisture or improperly processed, thereby spraying metal shards.
Takata’s airbags have been tied to at least four deaths in the United States. They are also in the center of a US regulatory probe as well as a number of global recalls in the past six years. According to industry estimates and company data, Takata has produced over 100 million airbag inflators since 200.
Over 17 million cars fitted with Takata airbags have been recalled since 2008. Takata uses ammonium nitrate, a chemical found in fertilizer and explosives, as an ingredient for the compound. Rival suppliers, however, uses guanidine nitrate, which is less volatile than ammonium nitrate.