Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs of its faulty airbag inflators that are connected to the death of at least 16 people, according to the Associated Press.
Takata said that rival Key Safety Systems of suburban Detroit will buy its assets for $1.6 billion.
In addition to the fatalities, the defective airbags caused at least 180 injuries and touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
The solid chemical propellant used in Takata airbags deteriorates over time, particularly under high humidity. This builds up excessive pressure in the metal inflator housing, causing it to rupture. When the air bag deploys, metal shrapnel launches through the bag and at the occupants in the vehicle, according to lawyer Kim Adams.
Nearly eight million vehicles by 10 different manufacturers may be affected, according to Consumer Reports. They include vehicles made by:
- General Motors