WASHINGTON — Fiat Chrysler said it will soon cease equipping new vehicles with the type of Takata airbag inflators that U.S. auto safety regulators said must all be recalled by the end of 2019.
The lone new FCA model with the inflator type, the 2016 Jeep Wrangler, will switch to an alternative design no later than next week for models bound for sale in North America, FCA said in a statement today. Production for other global markets will end by mid-September.
The automaker had been using Takata inflators that have an ammonium nitrate propellant without a chemical additive to prevent moisture absorption, known as a desiccant, in the 2016 Wrangler.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May ordered that all non-desiccated ammonium nitrate inflators made by Takata will be recalled in a phased schedule through the end of 2019. The action expanded the already massive Takata callbacks to eventually affect nearly 70 million inflators in the U.S. market.
NHTSA has said that exposing ammonium nitrate propellant to moisture in the air is a factor that hastens the propellant’s degradation, which after several years can increase the risk that the inflator will explode during airbag deployment in a crash. The defect has been linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the U.S. alone.
In a statement, FCA said it is unaware of any passenger-side inflator failures in the 2016 Wrangler. Nearly 6,300 tests of older versions of the Wrangler’s passenger-side inflator also performed correctly, FCA said.
FCA said it will disclose the presence of the affected inflators to purchasers of the 2016 Wranglers at the time of sale, and tell them that the vehicles will be recalled in the future.
The Wranglers are currently not under recall.
A recent report released by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., found that FCA, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen were still using non-desiccated ammonium nitrate Takata inflators in a small number of new vehicle models.
The disclosure prompted fresh pressure from lawmakers and safety advocates to make public which new vehicles contained the inflators. Earlier this month, Toyota said it was phasing out the use of the inflators in the 2016 Toyota 4Runner and Lexus GX460, the last two U.S.-market new models currently in production using the inflators.
“Ridding vehicles of these dangerous inflators is the right thing to do to ensure the safety of consumers,” Nelson said in a statement.