#145, Author unloads on Takata in new Killer Airbags book

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Jerry W. Cox has a stark warning for the driving public. He says 12 million cars and trucks on U.S. roads have defective Takata-made airbags that still have not been replaced.

Cox, a former consultant for the now-defunct Japanese automotive parts company, discusses the details in his new book “Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You To Know.”

Now an automotive consultant, Cox is our guest on Episode #145 of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

Jerry W. Cox is the author of the new book, "Killer Airbags."
Jerry W. Cox is the author of the new book, “Killer Airbags.”

Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss with Cox what he believes is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Killer Airbags details the events that led to the airbag scandal that rocked the automotive industry. Cox also criticizes a recent decision by the Trump Administration not to recall an additional 30 million newer-model cars with Takata airbags.

Killer Airbags in 70 million vehicles

Ammonium nitrate, the chemical used in the airbags made and installed in 70 million cars in 19 different models by Takata, exploded in the defective airbags and led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious injuries, Cox states.

The airbags were eventually recalled in the largest consumer product ever, but 12 million cars still have these devices that still have not been replaced.

Cox writes he warned the company to recall the devices completely in 2014, but it didn’t listen.

“Takata chose ammonium nitrate to inflate its airbags because it was vastly cheaper than more stable propellants,” Cox said. “They faked reports showing ammonium nitrate was suitable and lied about the danger until 2017 when the company was convicted of criminal fraud and went bankrupt.”

In 2015, federal regulators gave Takata until the end of 2019 to prove these “desiccated” inflators safe or to recall the 30 million affected 2018 and later-model vehicles.

Instead of seeking an independent assessment, the Trump Transportation Department secretly solicited an engineering study from the motor vehicle manufacturers who were responsible for paying for the recall. It decided in May 2020 not to recall those vehicles.

“The Transportation Department never asked the Takata engineers who designed those inflators whether they are safe,” said Cox. “All of those experts insist the inflators eventually will turn into hand grenades and that nobody should be driving a car with ammonium nitrate in their airbags.”

By that time, Cox hadn’t been consulting with Takata for a few years. In 2016, Cox viewed a gruesome image of Joel Knight.

As Cox details in the podcast, Knight was driving his pickup truck and hit a cow. It was a minor accident, but the Takata airbags deployed. The canister blew like a hand grenade sending a chunk of shrapnel the size of a hockey puck through the airbag and through Knight’s neck – killing him instantly.

Cox said he then vowed to tell the inside story of how Knight and now at least 23 others have been killed and more than 300 have been injured by Takata airbags.

The book details how Takata’s fraud scheme worked and exposes actions by current and former federal government officials that delayed and prevented safety recalls.

“I feel I am morally obligated to write the book,” said Cox, who further details the airbag issue on his website: www.killerairbags.com.

The book is available on the author’s website as well as on Amazon.com.

Please join Bruce Aldrich and me as we hear from the author in a compelling episode.

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