Two U.S. Senators sent a letter Tuesday to embattled Japanese parts supplier Takata Corp., pressing the company to voluntarily recall all vehicles in the country installed with its air bags after it was revealed this week that U.S. regulators are investigating an air bag rupture in a newer model car.
"In light of the most recent incident, which did not occur in one of the regions originally designated as 'high humidity,' and which involved a 2015 vehicle not currently subject to recall, we urge you to voluntarily recall all vehicles containing Takata air bags," Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey wrote in the letter addressed to Takata's U.S. arm.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe into a June accident where a Takata side air bag in a Volkswagen Group sports utility vehicle exploded, U.S. media recently reported. While no one was hurt, it was the first such incident for the German automaker and the first known rupture of a side air bag.
The Senators, who serve on the Senate Commerce Committee which has held two hearings on the defect, said that the rupture of one of Takata's more recently made air bags again calls into question its continued use of an unstable chemical compound. Takata's replacement air bag inflators also use the compound.
"Given that replacement components continue to use ammonium nitrate, we are extremely concerned they may still put motorists at risk of death or serious injury," the Senators said. "It is essential for Takata to make contingency plans in case a further recall of its replacement parts is required."
The Senators also pushed the Japanese company to make public all data that it has collected from testing the defective air bags so independent experts and analysts can identify the root cause for the explosive air bag ruptures.
The faulty air bags have been linked with at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.
"Releasing all test results for public inspection is an essential step towards ensuing greater transparency, protecting American motorists, and accurately identifying the root cause of this deadly safety defect as quickly as possible," they said in the letter to the world's second-largest air bag maker.
More than 50 million cars equipped with Takata air bags have been recalled globally since 2008, mostly in the United States and Japan.