Takata Corp. is probing into whether moisture was a possible cause of defective airbag inflator that had led to recall of millions of vehicles from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW and Mazda. Earlier this month, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration disclosed that high humidity in Florida and Puerto Rico may have a part in six incidents of ruptured frontal airbags, an eventual result of defective airbag inflators malfunctioning during accidents.
Toyota then disclosed it will issue a global recall of 2.3 million vehicles installed with Takata airbags. In 2013, 3.6 million vehicles having the same glitch were recalled by carmakers like Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Honda and Nissan.
Despite those investigations and recall, it is unlikely that Takata would lose a substantial number of airbag orders since the company is one of just three key global suppliers – with TRW and Autoliv – of airbags. Scott Upham, principal of Valient Market Research, quipped that the barriers to entry to the airbag industry “are ungodly high.”
He noted that suppliers must have “deep-pocket expertise” in electronics, explosives, metals and crash tests. He added that inflator plants need robots for handling key operations and feature blast walls for occasional blow-ups.
Upham remarked that some big German suppliers considered entering the airbag industry but decided not to because of these issues.