Ford and federal regulators said Friday that the automaker will petition to avoid having to recall 2.5 million US vehicles with Takata airbag inflators that have been identified as being potentially defective, Reuters reports. The petition will ask regulators to permit Ford to skip out on the safety recall “to continue testing and analyzing our inflators,” says Ford spokesperson John Cangany.
Takata’s defect-prone airbag inflators have been observed to degrade over time and possibly rupture in the event of a crash, sending harmful debris through the cabin. The issue has led to the largest automotive recall in US history, involving some 42 million vehicles across the country, including 2.5 million Fords.
Takata, which has filed for bankruptcy since pleading guilty to fraud in US federal court, accepted a $1 billion settlement in America, including a $25-million criminal fine, $125-million fund to compensate victims, and an $850-million sum to be paid to automakers to cover some of the expense of the recalls. But Takata can only meet that $1 billion settlement amount with help from a purchase by Michigan-based company Key Safety Systems, and $850 million is not enough to cover all the expenses of the recall.
The news of Ford’s petition comes as new testing suggests that some drivers side airbag inflators in 2012-2015 Ford, Mazda, and Nissan vehicles should be regarded as defective. “Testing data shows that the propellant in this inflator is degrading and on the path towards potential ruptures in the future,” said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a statement on Friday. “There are no reported ruptures in the real-world or in testing.”
Takata’s airbag inflators have been linked to 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries so far, worldwide. Reuters reports that the recalls will eventually cover some 125 million inflators.