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Air bag fragments kill Volvo driver, prompting recall of more than 50,000 cars

Air bag fragments kill Volvo driver, prompting recall of more than 50,000 cars
Posted at 11:37 AM, Nov 09, 2020

DETROIT (AP) — Metal fragments from an exploding air bag inflator have killed the driver of an older model Volvo, touching off a U.S. recall of as many as 54,124 cars.

The inflators in this case were made by auto parts supplier ZF/TRW, but U.S. government documents show they perform similarly to deadly inflators made by Takata.

The recall covers Volvo S60 and S80 cars from 2001 through 2003 model years. Volvo said it will replace the driver’s air bag at no cost to customers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Saturday that it’s reviewing data with Volvo about other vehicles with the inflators and will decide on further action.

ZF/TRW didn't immediately respond to messages left Saturday asking about whether the inflators were sold to other automakers.

The federal agency says the Volvo inflator rupture is the only known incident worldwide.

Japanese parts maker Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture in the air. The explosion can blow apart a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

At least 26 people have been killed worldwide by the inflators, including 17 in the United States.

The problem caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 63 million inflators recalled. As of September, more than 11.1 million had not been fixed, according to the U.S. government. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

NHTSA said Saturday that the ZF/TRW inflators did not use ammonium nitrate to inflate the air bags.

Over the summer, Volvo recalled more than 2 million cars worldwide for another issue. That recall was about a steel wire that connected to the front seat belts.