Volkswagen Testing Takata Air Bags as U.S. Weighs Wider Recalls

  • Arranging for parts would take more than a year, VW says
  • VW lists models using about 2.4 million Takata inflators

Volkswagen AG said it is collecting Takata Corp. air bags from its vehicles for testing and told the U.S. regulator that getting replacement parts would take more than a year if recalls are expanded.

The need to develop and test new air bag inflators and a shortage of production capacity would contribute to the wait, Volkswagen said in the Oct. 15 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The automaker listed VW, Bentley, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini models sold in the U.S. using about 2.4 million Takata air bag inflators.

The outlook for lagging parts supply was included in letters to NHTSA from Volkswagen and six other automakers made public last week. NHTSA had sent letters to the companies last month inquiring about their use of Takata air bags with ammonium nitrate propellant. Takata has said its propellant appears to be one of many factors contributing to air bag ruptures that have killed eight people and prompted recalls of about 19 million vehicles.

A NHTSA order to expand Takata air bag recalls could deal another blow to Volkswagen as the manufacturer prepares to retrofit 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that were rigged to meet emissions tests. The company is considering a combination of software and hardware repairs that could take more than a year, Michael Horn, Volkswagen’s U.S. chief executive, told a House committee this month.

In its letter, Volkswagen proposed a meeting with NHTSA in early November to discuss “the Takata matter and the various concurrent inquiries and requests” involving the company.

Volkswagen said it’s planning to retrieve side air bag inflators for analysis after one ruptured in a 2015 VW Tiguan sport utility vehicle. The company reported that incident to NHTSA in July. Its Audi division has collected 58 Takata air bag modules that are now being tested, according to the letter.

There are no indications of a defect in Volkswagen vehicles, and the company said it isn’t planning a recall. Separately, Daimler AG and Jaguar Land Rover said they’re not testing air bags in their vehicles or planning recalls.

Tesla Motors Inc.’s answers to NHTSA’s September letter were redacted from its response letter, which cites confidential business information. Spartan Motors Inc., a maker of fire trucks, said in its letter that the company hadn’t been made aware that it should be included in the recalls.

Suzuki Motor Corp. said its vehicles sold in the U.S. don’t use Takata air bag inflators with ammonium nitrate propellant. Volvo Group said it doesn’t use Takata air bag inflators in products sold in the U.S.

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