Airbag manufacturer Takata is in the news again, this time because it has revealed a change in the chemical composition of its airbag propellant. The company's airbags had earlier been suspected of discharging metal shrapnel upon deployment. Notably, the company is denying that the changes were in response to airbag defects.
An unnamed Takata official says these changes are part of the company's ongoing improvement of its products and is not in response to manufacturing defects. The official stated to a major news website, "There has not been any finding that ammonium nitrate or the earlier composition was somehow flawed. We changed the composition in an effort to improve quality."
The new propellant has been used in the replacement airbags for cars affected by the huge recall, said the official. He however refused to comment on when these changes happened or provide any quantitative details.
The implications of the defective airbags have been very serious—at least 139 injuries and four deaths have occurred in the U.S. to date.
Takata is currently in the middle of a regulatory investigation in the U.S. and global recalls dating back to 2008. In a shocking twist, it has been reported that Takata engineers had detected problems with the airbags way back in 2004, but were ordered to destroy test data.