US opens investigation into airbags in 30 million vehicles: report

US opens investigation into airbags in 30 million vehicles: report
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A U.S. auto safety agency opened an investigation into roughly 30 million vehicles over possible faulty airbag inflators on Friday, affecting more than 20 automakers, Reuters reported, citing a government document it reviewed.

The vehicles, with model years from 2001 and 2019, could have potentially faulty air bag inflators that were manufactured by Takata Corporation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which opened up an investigation into the affected vehicles, according to Reuters.

The news wire noted the probe had not yet been publicized but the agency has notified the companies.

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Takata air bag inflators have been previously recalled over metal elements causing potential explosions with faulty inflators. More than 100 million inflators have been recalled over the last 10 years, including 67 million in the U.S. alone, Reuters reported.

More than 400 people have been injured due to the faulty air bags in addition to at least 28 deaths globally.

"While no present safety risk has been identified, further work is needed to evaluate the future risk of non-recalled desiccated inflators," NHTSA said its analysis, according to Reuters. "Further study is needed to assess the long-term safety of desiccated inflators."

Among the automakers affected by the report include Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor, Subaru, Ferrari NV, Mazda, Toyota Motor Corp., BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, Tesla, Daimler AG and Chrysler, among others, the news outlet reported.

Mercedes-Benz USA, Mazda and Honda confirmed to The Hill that they were aware of the NHTSA investigation.

"Safety is a top priority at Mazda and we intend to fully cooperate with NHTSA on their investigation,” Mazda said in a statement. 

"MBUSA was informed together with other OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] by NTHSA about this new investigation concerning non-recalled desiccated" inflators made by Takata, Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman Robert Moran said in a statement. He also added that the company would work closely with the agency.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. told The Hill in a statement that it has tested Takata airbags that contain a drying agent — different from airbags that do not, which have been previously recalled — and said, "To date, we have not observed any evidence that these inflators pose any risk of rupture." The company noted it would take action if they believed the air bags caused a safety threat to customers.

The Hill has reached out to the NHTSA and the other automakers for further comment. 

—Updated at 12:13 a.m.