The infamous Takata recall still looms over the industry and the latest report from John Buretta, the independent monitor overseeing the recalls for the Justice department, shows that a majority of impacted vehicles haven't been repaired. Already the largest recall in automotive history, as of mid-September, over 20 million vehicles required Takata airbag servicing from the 31.5 million recalled. The progress report was released last week and reported by Automotive News.
Worse still is that nearly half of the recalled vehicles have multiple airbags in need of replacement. According to the report, 25 million individual airbags—out of 43 million recalled—haven't been replaced.
While the number of vehicles driving around unrepaired sounds bad, Buretta actually notes that there is “meaningful progress” on the part of manufacturers as they develop plans to notify owners. He notes that “there remains much room for improvement,” though he declined to single out any specific manufacturers.
Takata’s airbag crisis centers on defective inflators which could cause the bags to rupture and fire shrapnel toward occupants during a collision. So far, the faulty equipment is responsible for at least 13 deaths and over 100 injuries.
In the report, Buretta states, “recalling these inflators requires a substantial dedication of resources and planning by vehicle manufacturers to ensure that recall efforts remain effective on a national scale.”
The specific way in which the defective parts fail complicates the logistics of the recall process. According to Takata, the ammonium nitrate propellant tends to degrade over time, and the process is exacerbated by heat and humidity. Thus, areas like Florida are being prioritized for recalls and repairs.