VW Beetle Ensnared in Takata Airbag Recall


A bug in the airbag propellant, so to speak.

Volkswagen Group of America is recalling 105,652 model-year 2012-2014 Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible compacts. The Takata supplied driver’s side air bag inflator may explode due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high temperature cycling.The exploding airbag sends shrapnel into the interior, which can cause serious or fatal injuries.

VW maintains that the Takata SDI-D driver frontal airbag inflators installed in the recalled vehicles currently do not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety to drivers of affected vehicles. “Based on its prior conversations with NHTSA, Volkswagen understands that the Agency is concerned that after additional time, the airbag inflator may not perform properly in the event of a crash,” VW said.

Volkswagen and the NHTSA reviewed findings from various sources, including but not limited to a study from TK Global (the successor to TK Holdings, Inc. which is the owner of bankrupt Takata), on the safety and service life of desiccated Takata airbag inflators.

Volkswagen’s internal testing of SDI-D returned parts indicated better performance than the results of other studies, including TK Global’s and did not identify any defects. “Nevertheless, in consultation with the NHTSA regarding the Agency’s evaluation of such sources, and out of an abundance of caution, Volkswagen agrees to recall certain vehicles specified herein that contain SDI-D phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (“PSAN”) airbag inflators, which are desiccated inflators containing 2004 propellant.”


  • January 15, 2020: Meeting to discuss this topic was held between Volkswagen and the NHTSA.
  • January 21, 2020: Follow-up meeting between Volkswagen and the NHTSA. As an outcome of the meeting, the NHTSA clarified its expectation of a recall of all SDI-D inflators in the Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible vehicles.
  • February 2020 – April 2020: Volkswagen and the NHTSA discussed the terms of a potential recall program internally and between the parties.
  • April 30, 2020 – May 5, 2020: An agreement between Volkswagen and the NHTSA to address the recall of vehicles equipped with Takata SDI-D air bag inflators was reached and fully executed by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and the NHTSA.
  • December 9, 2020: Pursuant to the schedule set out in the agreement with the NHTSA, Volkswagen’s Product Safety Committee decided to conduct a safety recall.

Volkswagen will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver frontal air bag, free of charge as required by law The recall is expected to begin 12 February 2021. Owners may contact Volkswagen customer service at 1-800-893-5298 about recall 69BC covering Takata SDI-D Inflator. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number is 20V785000.

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