On Tuesday, nearly 34 million cars and trucks nationwide were declared defective because of deadly air bags made by auto-parts giant Takata. It is expected to be the biggest recall of any consumer product in U.S. history.
This expanded recall is due to air bags which can blast out sharp metal shrapnel when deployed, a flaw that has been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.
The nationwide recall effort is expected to cost billions of dollars for the auto industry and will potentially overwhelm automakers, parts suppliers and dealerships already struggling to find enough safe replacement parts.
Millions of consumers who drive some of the most popular models from BMW, Ford, Honda, Toyota and other carmakers could possibly remain behind the wheel with a defect that lawmakers have deemed a “public safety threat” due to supply issues.
In these two forensic tests conducted in December 2014, shrapnel flies out of a Takata air bag when crash conditions are simulated in a test environment.
“How long is this going to take? Nobody knows that yet,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said Tuesday, referring to the recall process.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called it “probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.”
Investigations by Takata, automakers and independent researchers has yet to identify a definitive cause behind the ruptures, leading to additional worries that replacement parts could have the same fatal flaw.