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Fiat Chrysler to end use of riskiest Takata air-bag inflators

2 min

New York (AFP)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Tuesday it would end use of the most dangerous Takata air-bag inflators, which have been tied to at least 13 deaths and 100 injuries worldwide.

FCA US, the US arm of the Italian automaker, said that it will stop using Takata's non-dessicated ammonium-nitrate inflators in vehicles produced in North America by next week, and in global production by mid-September.

On June 1 US Senator Bill Nelson reported that at least four automakers in the United States continued to install non-dessicated Takata inflators in new cars even though research had shown that they are prone over time to eruptions that send shrapnel into vehicle occupants.

Those particular inflators were still being used because of a shortage of dessicated inflator replacements. The automakers -- Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi -- will still have to recall those cars and replace the high-risk inflators when dessicated inflators become available.

"Unsold vehicles that are so-equipped will be identified for customers," FCA said in a statement. "These customers will also be advised that the vehicles will be recalled in the future. They are not currently subject to recall."

The automakers maintain the non-dessicated inflators remain safe while still new. US authorities say the problem is that, especially in high-heat and high-humidity environments, those deflators degrade over several years and become prone to eruption.

Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee which has investigated Takata, said on June 1 that the use of the risky airbag inflators is legal, but that it is being done without consumers' knowledge.

"These cars shouldn't be sold until they're fixed," he said.

Suspecting that the chemical used itself is a problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still wants the Japanese auto parts maker to demonstrate that even dessicated ammonium nitrate-based inflators are safe.

In May it ordered Takata to boost research into the safety of those inflators.

"Absent proof that the desiccated inflators are safe, Takata will be required to recall them" as well, it said.

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