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Ford Airbag Fatality from Exploding Inflator Results in Takata Recall Expansion

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A tenth death has been linked to exploding airbag inflators manufactured by Takata Corporation, leading to a massive recall expansion to add more than 5 million vehicles that contain the potentially defective airbags that may over-inflate and rupture, sending metal fragments and debris towards the vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. 

The latest death attributed to a Takata airbag occurred on December 22, involving a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck. The autopsy report and death certificate indicate that a South Carolina man was killed when a piece of shrapnel from the inflator canister penetrated his neck during the airbag deployment.

The airbag fatality is similar to other incidents reported involving Takata airbags, which have caused hundreds of serious injuries and at least nine other deaths.

Following the incident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that a prior Takata airbag inflator recall was being expanded to include an additional 5 million vehicles made by Ford, Saab, Mazda, Honda, Volkswagen, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. The action brings the recall total to more than 24 million vehicles, which were sold by at least 15 different auto makers.

The NHTSA has not officially released the list of models included in this latest recall, as the agency stated on Friday the list is very large and they are still determining the models and exact number of vehicles involved. The agency claims that part of the delay in releasing the recall expansion is due to one million out of the five million vehicles having similar airbags as the Ford Ranger vehicle death, while roughly the other four million being recalled are due to new test results on the inflators.

The recent recall expansion announcement comes shortly after a NHTSA press release that stated the repair rate for vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags was “rapidly accelerating”.

In December, the agency claimed that more than 950,000 vehicles had been repaired in only a two week period, giving hope for a near future completion of the millions of vehicles recalled. However, with more than 5.5 million vehicles being recalled just this month, repairs could take years to complete as more vehicles with defective Takata airbags are discovered.

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