The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that defective airbags could be found in approximately 420,000 Chrysler Town & Country minivans and 70,000 Kia Optima sedans. However, this time, the airbags were manufactured not by Takata, but rather by its American rival ARC Automotive.
The NHTSA has opened an investigation, Reuters says. While no death has been linked to the defect so far, two people were directly injured by a ruptured airbag.
The first incident occurred in Ohio in 2009 with a 2002 Chrysler Town & Country, and the second involved a 2004 Kia Optima in December of last year. Both automakers are fully cooperating with the NHTSA investigation.
"At the present time it is unknown if there is a common root cause in these incidents," the NHTSA noted. "(The agency) is opening this investigation in order to collect all known facts from the involved suppliers and vehicle manufacturers."
According to the document that was released, preliminary analysis indicates that the exhaust path for the inflation gas mixture may have been blocked by an object of indeterminate origin.
Time will tell if more vehicles by these two automakers or others are affected, and if new recalls need to be issued.
Meanwhile at Takata…
Recalls due to defective airbags manufactured by Takata continue to make headlines. So far, eight people have died as a result of exploding airbags that send metallic or plastic shrapnel flying inside the car.
More than 50 million vehicles from 11 different makes are affected, including 34 million in the U.S. alone.